The New York Yankees willingly sacrificed rotation depth down the stretch when they dealt away left-hander Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals at the 2022 MLB Trade Deadline. At the time, without a corresponding move to add another starting pitcher to Frankie Montas, it seemed like a head-scratcher at best and negligent at worst.
After all, despite Montgomery not fitting in Brian Cashman’s ideal playoff rotation, surely someone else in his perfect lil’ blueprint would go down between August and October, leaving the Yankees one additional arm short. Luis Severino had, in fact, been transferred to the 60-Day IL the day prior! It had already happened!
At the time, losing Montgomery without replacing him felt like a D grade on the ol’ Trade Grade Scale, and was an example of the Yankees unnecessarily tempting fate.
The text was incomplete, though. Harrison Bader was hurt, sure, and the assessment could all change when he returned! Sadly, three-plus weeks later, and the only hint of Bader Yankee fans have gotten was a Players’ Tribune farewell to St. Louis and a few assorted dugout shots.
There was still time. Time … for the trade to get even worse!
Nestor Cortes, the Yankees’ best starter, hit the Injured List on Thursday afternoon to nurse a groin injury. If he’s really injured, the Yanks’ rotation got much weaker, and would be better off long-term with an experienced lefty in Montgomery rather than a rookie in Clarke Schmidt.
If it’s just an attempt to limit his innings — and it might be! — then that whole issue could’ve been mitigated by plugging in Jordan Montgomery to fill the gaps. Sadly, this D-grade deal, which became an F when Monty popped off in St. Louis, has now been downgraded to a full-blown F-.
Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery trade one of history’s worst disasters, just behind all actual tragedies
And if the Yankees go on to need Montgomery in the postseason, or if Severino never returns at full strength, there’s still some wiggle room all the way down to an F– or even a G+. Stay tuned!
If this is a “Phantom IL Stint” for Cortes, kudos to Brian Cashman for being able to take all the resulting heat from the decision while still remaining quiet. If this were me, and I’d just placed a secretly-healthy pitcher on the IL and made my marquee deadline deal look even worse, I’d be confessing to everybody. But not Ninja Lips Cash. Well played.
If it’s a genuine injury, jettisoning Montgomery looks dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, and most importantly, predictably dumb.
At the time of Monty’s departure, everybody knew it was risky for the Yankees to bank on every member of their “ideal playoff rotation” to remain healthy and effective into October. Everybody also knew it was likely that somebody would go down, considering three-fifths of the rotation was approaching their individual innings limit.
Nobody knew Montgomery would pitch like prime Randy Johnson, though. Nobody knew or thought that. But hey, that’s the kind of unforeseen consequence that’ll bump you down below an F.