Chicago Cubs The Mike Montgomery Trade Revisited

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Do you remember how you felt when the Mike Montgomery was announced? I do. I was disappointed. Now can you imagine where this Cubs team would be without Montgomery?

The 2016 trade deadline was approaching, and it was obvious that the Cubs needed bullpen help. Travis Wood was getting a ton of work as the only lefty in the bullpen. Hector Rondon was the closer. They were good bullpen pieces, but they didn’t measure up to the kind of bullpen that the Royals had used the year before to win the World Series.

When the Montgomery trade was announced, I was afraid that it was the 2016 version of the Dan Haren trade from 2015. That year the Cubs obviously needed a fifth starter. Haren technically filled that role, but he wasn’t even included on the postseason roster. However, the Cubs got him for a pair of minor leaguers who still haven’t made it to the major leagues.

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Headed for the Cubs?

So when the Cubs traded for Montgomery I was afraid that he was going to technically be another lefty for the bullpen. However, I was hoping for Andrew Miller. Miller could have served as either a great match up lefty or as the closer. Montgomery, as great as he has been, was a disappointment at the time compared to my hopes for Miller.

Of course, the front office wasn’t done yet. Theo and Jed also traded for closer Aroldis Chapman. Then Montgomery ended up getting the save in Game 7 of the World Series anyway.

Do you remember what the Cubs traded away for Montgomery? It was Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn. The Cubs also got Jordan Pries along with Montgomery. Blackburn is no longer with the Mariners. Pries has yet to make his major league debut.

Traded a slugger?

Vogelbach is a slugging first baseman. So it was unlikely he was ever going to be on the Cubs 25 man roster as long as Anthony Rizzo wears a Cubs uniform. After the trade, there was talk that Vogelbach might eventually become the Mariners everyday DH. Of course, that wasn’t a possibility if Vogelbach stayed with the National League Cubs.

Now with the injury to Yu Darvish, Montgomery is pitching so well he is making his case to stay in the starting rotation. Vogelbach has yet to establish himself at the major league level. Vogelbach has only had 119 plate appearances in parts of three different seasons so far in the Major Leagues. In those 119 plate appearances, he has a slash line of just .196/.311/.284.

So the Cubs don’t regret trading away Vogelbach. But after the Chapman trade, I started to wonder why the Cubs were able to trade for Montgomery. Montgomery wasn’t Chris Archer or Sonny Gray. But he is a young, cost-controlled starting pitcher. Isn’t that the holy grail that this front office has been trying to trade for? Don’t ‘they’ say you can never have enough starting pitching? On top of all that he is a lefty!

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So if there are any other teams who are willing to trade a young, cost-controlled left-handed, starting pitcher for a slugging first baseman who can’t play any other defensive positions and can’t quite establish himself at the major league level the Cubs should make that deal every time. I’m not sure why the Mariners let Montgomery get away.