When it comes to trade season, Oakland Athletics righty Frankie Montas might be the number one target on the pitching market. He’s 29, he’s under control for another season, he gets good results historically, he’s getting good results this year, and he’s viewed as having additional upside.
Indeed, it was just yesterday that he was getting some highly-particularized chatter:
… and then today, Montas left after just one inning of work, with his velocity way down, and it is a shoulder problem:
Precisely because of Montas’s status on the trade market, the A’s are going to be enormously cautious with (1) how they use Montas, and also (2) how they describe any “injuries.” You will hear words like tightness, cramping, tiredness as much as they can deploy them (and “inflammation,” which manager Mark Kotsay also dropped after the game). And you will hear words like strain, sprain, and pain as little as they can deploy them.
We’ll see if Montas is going to miss time, or if a more serious diagnosis follows.
This bears watching for a variety of reasons – most aren’t Cubs-related, but there is a bigger picture market impact.
The Cubs don’t have a pitcher available in trade who is in Montas’s class, so every potential impact is a couple steps removed. But the Cubs do figure to have upwards of three starting pitchers plausibly on the market (Kyle Hendricks, Wade Miley, Drew Smyly), so it’s an area to follow in any case.
The Cubs have their own injury-related issues with their pitchers – Smyly is going on his first rehab start tomorrow, Miley is only just throwing – but generally speaking, the fewer options available out there, the better their chances of netting actual value in these trades. That’s not say I’m rooting for a serious Frankie Montas injury, of course – it just means we have to follow the news closely and reconceptualize the market accordingly.