Chicago Cubs: The Case for trading Mike Montgomery

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

It’s no secret that Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery wants to start, but there really isn’t room for him to do that regularly on the north side of Chicago.

Since trading Dan Vogelbach to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Montgomery in 2016, the left-handed pitcher has been a valuable part of the Chicago Cubs. He even recorded the last out to secure the team’s first World Series championship in over a century.

Is it time for the two sides to part ways in 2018, though?

It may not be as crazy as it sounds. For the better part of his career with the Cubs, he’s been not just the best lefty in their bullpen, but one of the best relievers on the team. And his ability to make starts when needed is valuable. But is it useful enough for the Cubs? Good starting pitching is hard to come by in this league. There are plenty of teams that could use Montgomery as a regular starter.

The Montgomery conundrum

More from Cubbies Crib

Montgomery has, in the past, been vocal about his desire to be a full-time starter. That’s not going to happen for him on the Cubs. Barring an injury, it just wouldn’t make sense to push any of the five starters out. So for now, he’ll have to continue being relegated to a spot-start/long relief roll.

It’s a role he’s mostly flourished in. But the start of this season has been a bit of a different story. To this point, he’s recorded a 4.50 ERA with a 1.444 WHIP and 5.04 FIP. He’s no longer the Cubs’ best lefty in the bullpen. That distinction belongs to either Brandon Morrow or Brian Duensing.

Why trade?

But Montgomery’s early struggles are not the real reason the Cubs should consider trading him. As was to be expected, the Cubs’ farm system is not in a great place right now. In fact, it’s very weak. That’s not a knock on the Chicago management. This was part of the plan and it happens to most teams when they’re in a championship window.

There is, however, an opportunity to start strengthening the farm a bit. And it starts with Mike Montgomery. The 28-year-old could very easily prove to be a sizable upgrade over a number of teams’ three or four starters. And the fact that he can switch back and forth from the rotation to the pen gives him even more appeal.

Next: The Cubs have been dominant at home

Stay or go?

The question here really is whether or not the Cubs need Mike Montgomery. With Brian Duensing pitching lights out and Justin Wilson looking much better, the Cubs haven’t had to rely so heavily on Montgomery to get left-handed batters out. If they feel their bullpen could hold up just fine without him, they should absolutely test his value on the trade market. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that teams will overpay to get quality starting pitching.