A ton of folks have asked us about Frankie Montas recently and I get it to an extent. Montas was worth around 4 WAR last year depending on where you look after posting a 3.37 ERA in 187 IP for the Oakland A’s last year. Montas is 29 years old, has two more years of control left on his contract, and is projected for another ~3.5 WAR in 2022. On the surface, I get it. He’s a good pitcher and the Royals don’t have many pitchers who have proven they can be good in the big leagues yet.
On the other hand, what are our realistic expectations for the Royals in 2022? If you really buy into the idea of WAR, do you think Montas is so much more valuable than whomever the Royals fifth starter will be that he’s going to make them a contender all of a sudden? Montas, a pitcher who is admittedly talented, posted an ERA of 5.60 just on season ago in 2020. By no means am I suggesting that that’s who Montas is, but this is the guy we want to sell our soul for?
Montas would be awesome to have. If he was already in the Royals system I would be PUMPED to see what he could do for the team in 2022. But to act like he’s some kind of pendulum swinger that’s going to put the Royals over the edge is sort of fools gold. He’s not James Shields. Hell he’s not even Zack Greinke. He’s a good, not great, pitcher that the Royals could certainly use but should absolutely, for NO reason, sell the farm for.
I also want to be clear that I would feel differently about this if the Royals had gone 84-78 last year. If the Royals had narrowly missed the playoffs, had a young roster coming back that got its feet wet in 2021, I’d be all for something like this. The window just isn’t open yet the way a move for Montas might suggest. MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, Bobby Witt, Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and company have a combined zero big league plate appearances. I know Montas is under contract in 2023, but he’ll be a free agent moving into 2024 when the Royals contention window will FINALLY be open. Why do we want to sell players that can help that 2024 team for a guy who won’t be around when we get there?
Maybe I’m overestimating the price that it will take to acquire Montas. Maybe you can get him for Kris Bubic and Austin Cox and feel better about the move. Maybe he’s a Maikel Garcia and Jackson Kowar away. I just don’t see how the A’s let a guy like that go for that price when there are contenders that could use Montas for a World Series run in 2022. And, like I said, I’d be good with that for the Royals if they were at the point! I said it earlier, if the Royals had been over .500, go for it! I think there are contending teams that should sell part of their soul for Montas. The Royals just aren’t at that point yet and they shouldn’t be price matching teams who are there already.
So anyway, I know this isn’t probably the trade you care the most about today, but I appreciate you reading it anyway. I get why folks like Montas. I like Montas! He’s got a great arm. He’s a good pitcher. He’s not going to swing the pendulum so far that the Royals can compete for the playoffs in 2022. He’ll be gone in 2024 and the Royals shouldn’t be trading valuable pieces of that 2024 team for a guy who won’t be here. Just my thoughts on the deal.