Yankees miss on Frankie Montas after price reaches semi-absurd range

It simply makes you question who they WILL be able to afford in this pitching market.
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

Following a midseason blockbuster trade in the summer of 2022, right-hander Frankie Montas appeared in 10 games with the Yankees over the course of a year and a half. That includes the postseason. His ERA in those appearances? 6.21.

And, yet, the Yankees' rotation still took a hit when he signed with the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon.

Following Brian Cashman's failed Yoshinobu Yamamoto pursuit (in a non-bidding war), Montas was viewed as the "second option" the Yankees would add behind a more established name. He was the insurance policy, the rehabber who wowed Yankees coaches by helping young players at the facility all summer long as he battled to get back. He was far from a sure thing, but at $8-10 million, his presence would insure against missing out on Jordan Montgomery (and ignoring Blake Snell).

Well, unfortunately, something came up. He won't be on the team next year. He'll be in Cincy making $16 million for the season.

Yankees outbid by Reds for Frankie Montas. What's next?

To be fair to the Yankees, the idea that Montas would come back and compete for a fifth starter role was based on the idea that he'd need to take an incentive-laden, one-year deal after faceplanting so spectacularly for the previous year and a half, misleading the team (and public) on the timeline of his shoulder ache and succumbing to surgery before 2023 had even begun. His market was clearly quite different than anticipated, and $16 million of guaranteed money was a bridge that even the devil-may-care mid-2000s Yankees would've balked at.

But, on the flip side ... who you gonna get, Cash? If it's not Montgomery, it's an Edward Cabrera trade with the Marlins. And if it's not both, are you really much better off than when you still had Michael King, Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez?

The Juan Soto trade absolutely had to be made. But in a world where Lucas Giolito makes nearly $20 million annually after surrendering 41 homers in 2023 and Montas is guaranteed $16 million after a ghost-esque season, the Yankees are going to have to get uncomfortable to secure depth, let alone an eye-opening guarantee.