Chicago Cubs: What happens if Mike Montgomery is unhappy with his role?

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Mike Montgomery
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Mike Montgomery /

The long, boring offseason has finally picked up some steam as the Chicago Cubs have signed ace pitcher Yu Darvish. It only took four months!

Last December, it was reported that Mike Montgomery wanted to be a starter for the Chicago Cubs. And if he couldn’t, he wanted to be traded, if possible. This apparently came as a bit of a surprise to the Cubs’ brass. Up until the Yu Darvish signing, Montgomery’s role going into the 2018 season was somewhat unclear.

You can’t blame the guy for wanting a clear understanding of how he would be contributing. But if he’s unhappy with his position on the team, then the Cubs might have a bit of a problem. Or, more accurately, Montgomery might have a bit of a problem.

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Montgomery’s role

The possibility of Montgomery being a regular member of the rotation was still in place until Yu Darvish signed. Now that that’s happened, it’s looking like Montgomery will once again be relegated to the bullpen. Maddon has said Montgomery is slated as the sixth starter, but it’s unclear if the team plans to use a six-man rotation for any extended period of time.

Like the last two seasons, Montgomery will likely be a swingman. He’ll give Chicago spot starts when necessary, and if someone in the rotation gets hurt, he’ll surely be first in line to fill in. But his most important role is and always has been as a long reliever. That’s something we’ve been seeing more of in the league in recent years–relievers who can give you multiple innings. And Montgomery’s proven to be one of the best.

Last season, Montgomery recorded a 2.49 ERA over 61 1/3 innings as a reliever. For a Cubs bullpen that has struggled with consistency recently, Montgomery’s dependability has been vital. Even if Justin Wilson returns to form, Montgomery may well be the best left-hander the Cubs have in their bullpen. In fact, he may be the most important part of the Cubs’ bullpen overall.

Next: Cubs eager for Spring Training

If Montgomery is unhappy with his place on the Cubs, that’s unfortunate for both sides. But mostly, it’s unfortunate for him. Because the truth is he doesn’t have any leverage here. He’s not in a position to demand a trade, and even if he requested one, the Cubs aren’t obligated to oblige.