One day after a report indicated that Chicago Cubs left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery would like to be a starting pitcher again, with the Cubs or otherwise, the starter/reliever clarified comments regarding what he would like from his future.
You can read his comments here at the Sun-Times, and here from Jesse Rogers:
Spoke to Mike Montgomery today after a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox/Athletic that he's adamant about starting: "I'm at that point in my career where that's what I want. In my opinion I think it's in the team's best interest for me to do that but… https://t.co/X8obrKCoIo
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) December 13, 2017
Montgomery made clear to the Sun-Times that he’ll do what’s asked of him, and he’s not going to demand a trade. But he’s also making it very clear that he wants to start. He believes that’s what is best for not only for himself, but also for the Cubs.
On the one hand, you generally don’t like stuff like this getting out into the wild, because it sounds like a player griping about his role. But, as Montgomery says, the Cubs are aware of his desire to start, and it’s not as if he’s saying he won’t pitch if he’s not a starter. He made 14 starts in a swing role for the Cubs last year, by the way, and if he stays in his current role, he’ll make a ton of starts next year, too. I know that’s not quite what he means, but I’m just sayin’.
It’s understandable that Montgomery, who was groomed as a starter with the Royals, Rays, and Mariners, but never really got a shot. Now 28 and arbitration-eligible for the first time after next season – and having demonstrated that he can be a successful starter with the Cubs – he wants his shot to truly compete for the job. It has to be frustrating believing in yourself, seeing two starting pitchers leave in free agency, and then seeing your organization working hard to bring in additional starting pitchers.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer admitted to being a bit surprised by the comments and addressed them, which Michael addressed here earlier. But he also indicated he knows Montgomery wants to start, and the Cubs think of him as a starting pitcher. It’s just that he can swing into both roles, and that’s hugely important to a competitive team.
But, unless the Cubs are going to go with six starting pitchers (have I mentioned that I would whole-heartedly endorse that approach?), or unless there’s an injury in Spring Training, there probably isn’t going to be an open rotation spot for Montgomery when April rolls around.
We’ll see how the rest of the offseason shakes out, but, as things stand now, this is just one of those situations where a player’s versatility and a team’s depth don’t always work perfectly in concert with how a player views his highest and best value. I don’t see the Cubs suddenly scrambling to deal a valuable asset like Montgomery – the very kind of guy they’d target in trade! – but if they sign another starter, and if another trade opportunity presents itself, well, I suppose you never close any doors.
Luis Medina contributed to this post.