Chicago Cubs: Mike Montgomery as fifth starter would be far from disaster
By Jake Misener
The Chicago Cubs could go big and land Yu Darvish this offseason. Or they could allocate that money elsewhere and give Mike Montgomery a chance to start.
For much of the offseason, the Chicago Cubs have been linked to big-name starters. Could Chicago bring back right-hander Jake Arrieta? Maybe free agent Yu Darvish makes more sense. Either would give the Cubs one of the best rotations in baseball. But maybe that’s not the best course of action.
Chicago already added Tyler Chatwood on a three-year, $38 million deal. He’ll occupy one of the two open spots in the rotation. Lefty Drew Smyly also came onboard. He’s a bit of an interesting sign, though. He will miss most of the 2018 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but, should he come back healthy, he will likely battle for a spot on the 2019 staff.
Bear with me. We’re almost there. If Chicago is confident in these two arms (and there’s little reason not to be), why would you lock up a rotation spot for the next five years with Arrieta or Darvish?
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Throw in Mike Montgomery’s stated desire to start moving forward and it adds another layer to the story. Chicago has a real asset in their lefty swing-man. Losing him as the long-man in the pen would be a big loss, to be sure. But if he can channel his abilities as a starter, he may be even more valuable to the Cubs.
Looking at 2018 – and beyond
Let’s, for argument sake, suggest Mike Montgomery goes into Spring Training in a couple months and wins a spot in the rotation. Granted, this also likely assumes the Cubs miss out on Arrieta and Darvish. But, regardless, let’s continue.
That gives you a five of: Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood and Montgomery. Hendricks and Lester are both former Cy Young finalists. Add in Quintana and that’s a formidable top three. Chatwood, meanwhile, has a lot of promise once you break down his numbers away from Colorado further.
Sliding Montgomery into that final rotation spot opens up all kinds of possibilities the Cubs haven’t been linked to publicly. Instead of giving another starter $100 million, it’s time for Chicago to build a super-bullpen.
Davis headlines the group of remaining relievers, along with former Rockies closer Greg Holland. Addison Reed, Tony Watson and Andrew Cashner also remain without a home for 2018. Adding even one of these names could boost the Cubs’ pen.
Adding two? We could be taking about one of the best bullpens in the league. Re-signing Davis and bringing in the likes of Reed or Watson could give the Cubs a lethal back-end punch. The Cubs already signed Steve Cishek and Brandon Morrow – lending serious depth to the bullpen.
We’ve certainly heard worse ideas
If Montgomery starts and the Cubs add a couple more proven relievers, this team is ready for October. Don’t forget, Chicago still needs a backup catcher and a fourth outfielder before the season opens.
And, of course, we’re one year from one of the most loaded free agent classes in recent memory. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper headline this group – both of whom may be potential Cubs targets.
The Cubs don’t need an ace-quality final addition to the pitching staff. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but it’s certainly not the only recipe for success. A loaded bullpen with a lights-out closer can be just as successful over the course of a 162-game grind.