At the 2022 Trade Deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals dealt defensive-minded center fielder Harrison Bader to the New York Yankees for a southpaw by the name of Jordan Montgomery. The trade appeared to be one of those where each team filled a need by disposing of a surplus. The Yankees got a center fielder that they needed desperately so they could push Aaron Judge to the corner, and the Cardinals got a mid-rotation arm to provide some depth in a starting rotation that needed assistance.
Jordan Montgomery turned out to be the ace of the Cardinals' staff for the next 12 months until he was traded again to the Rangers at the 2023 Trade Deadline. In return, the Cardinals got Tekoah Roby, Thomas Saggese, and John King from the Texas Rangers. Saggese has been a stud in the minors, winning the Texas League MVP Award, and Roby appears to be a solid pitcher with a decent upside. John King has been filling in some innings in the bullpen.
The real downside of this trade must be viewed with a greater lens. The Cardinals had the chance to ink Montgomery to an extension, and he spoke often about a desire to remain in St. Louis past his current arbitration deal. While Monty had plenty of good stats after the 2022 season, his stock has only risen since the 2023 Trade Deadline. Up until the deadline this year, Jordan Montgomery had a 3.85 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 1.215 WHIP, an ERA+ of 110 in his career, and he struck out just under 9 batters per nine innings. He was a workhorse, pitching in at least 150 innings in 3 of his 5 full seasons, excluding the COVID-2020 season. He did not make any All-Star games, nor did he receive any Cy Young votes, but he was consistent, and he was the best pitcher on a Cardinals' staff that needed some help.
Since the trade a couple of months ago, Montgomery has bolstered his case for a 9-figure contract this offseason. In 11 starts during the regular season with the Rangers, Montgomery had a 2.79 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.094 WHIP, and he pitched 67.2 innings. He pitched at least 7 innings in 4 of his 11 starts for the Rangers, and he only failed to make it into the 6th inning one time. In the postseason this year, Monty's star has shone even brighter. He has pitched in 3 games thus far, and he only has one real blunder against the Baltimore Orioles.
In the AL Wild Card game against the Rays, Monty shut them down for 7 innings, allowing only 6 hits, no walks, and he even struck out 5 batters. Against the Orioles, He went 4 innings, gave up 9 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, and only struck out 2 batsmen. However, Monty rebounded very well against one of the best teams in baseball over the last decade, the Houston Astros. He pitched a superb 6.1 innings last night, giving up only 5 hits, striking out 6 batters, and he didn't allow a single run. He gave the Rangers the pitching performance they needed in a potentially long series against a menacing team.
The bidding war for Jordan Montgomery's services this winter is only getting more intense. The Cardinals had the chance to have exclusive conversations with the lefty starter, but they squandered those by underperforming this year. They instead traded away a gem of a starter, and now they're left to bid against teams such as the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees for one of the best pitchers available this offseason.