When the New York Yankees traded for Frankie Montas at last year's trade deadline, the team knew of his shoulder issues. He hit the injured list from July 4-20 as a result. Not only were the Yankees aware of that, but they likely had more information on his medicals that wasn't disclosed to the public.
We'd like to see that info now! Because after pitching coach Matt Blake hinted at it earlier in the morning, Aaron Boone announced Wednesday that Montas will require surgery on his right shoulder after months of testing, which you'd have to suspect would knock him out for the 2023 season (pending an absolute hail mary).
If that happens, Montas will have made six starts with the Yankees (6.35 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) while costing the team nearly $10 million. And that's how you go from a B- to an F, kids. Why not have the surgery in November?!
Despite the potential pitfall with the shoulder concerns (and the fact Montas was really not good at all away from the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum), general manager Brian Cashman went ahead with the trade at the deadline, sending the A's a package consisting of prospects JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina and Cooper Bowman for Montas and reliever Lou Trivino.
The Yankees ended up shattering their minor-league pitching depth with that deal, as well as the Scott Effross trade with the Chicago Cubs and the Andrew Benintendi swap with the Kansas City Royals. What did they get in return? Six starts out of Montas, Tommy John surgery for Effross, and 33 games of Benintendi before he broke his wrist by swinging a baseball bat, something every player is required to do thousands of times per season.
In the other two deals, the Yankees surrendered top pitching prospects Hayden Wesneski, TJ Sikkema, Beck Way and Chandler Champlain. That's eight prospects for a potential combined 52 games through the 2023 season.
Brian Cashman can't be absolved for awful Yankees-A's Frankie Montas trade
In no way are we supporting prospect hugging, nor are we saying the Yankees are at fault for being unable to predict injuries. But EVERY warning sign was there regarding Montas. Effross had 61 games of MLB experience before arriving in New York. Benintendi was always going to be a rental. And if you think about it, all of these moves had to be made because of previous transgressions (Aaron Hicks contract, Aroldis Chapman extension, Zack Britton contract, not paying one of the many available starting pitching free agents from 2017-2022 outside of Gerrit Cole, not signing George Springer, trading Jordan Montgomery, etc.).
Even if the Yankees prospects don't pan out, this is bad business. Prospects remain assets until they aren't. So in this exercise, the Yankees traded assets for essentially nothing that will help them until 2024. Freak occurrences/accidents aside, going 0/3 like this is a reflection on the decision making, plain and simple. This doesn't just happen.
But Montas was always the most glaring. He had past character issues as well, getting suspended for PED usage in 2019. He was traded by the White Sox in 2015 and then again by the Dodgers in 2016. Integral players don't get jerked around like before even making their mark in the majors. Since his debut in 2015 (which lasted seven games), he pitched just seven minor league games in 2016 due to injury and registered only one reputable campaign in 2021.
Even with a thin pitching market that was beyond top heavy, the Yankees never needed to make this trade. They could've saved those assets for the offseason. They could've continued to utilize somone like Sears who was pitching well for them! They could've elevated Waldichuk, who was progressing nicely through the upper levels of the minor leagues.
Instead, the Yankees could end up with absolutely nothing. Oh wait ... Domingo Germán it is! For the third year in a row!