Price tag, faith in young arms will keep the Cubs from signing Jordan Montgomery

All signs point to Chicago heading to Texas for Opening Day next week without the top remaining free agent on the market, despite the clear fit.

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two
Division Series - Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

If the Chicago Cubs are going to win the division and make a postseason run, they'll need the unthinkable to happen: young, homegrown arms are going to have to carry a lot of the weight in the starting rotation.

A homegrown Cubs arm hasn't pitched for the team in October in 16 years. Free agency and trades built the World Series-winning rotation back in 2016, including Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Jason Hammel. Of course, Hendricks came over as a young Rangers prospect in the 2012 Ryan Dempster trade, but given he wasn't drafted and developed by the Cubs, he's in the same bucket.

This year's team, though, is betting heavily on Justin Steele, a former fifth-round draft pick, as well as a mix of young arms to shoulder a huge weight. Two of those arms, Javier Assad and Jordan Wicks, will open the year in the rotation, with the former filling in for the injured Jameson Taillon early in the season.

Top pitching prospects Cade Horton and Ben Brown could both make their respective big league debuts this summer. Simply put, there's a lot of 'ifs' when it comes to this group. The potential is there, but sure things are few and far between. That fact makes free agent left-hander Jordan Montgomery even more appealing, given the fact we're less than a week from the regular season starting and he's still out there unsigned.

Cubs aren't going to push past the luxury tax threshold by signing free agent Jordan Montgomery before the season starts

According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic and MLB Network Radio, it would take either two years at $25 million a year or a five-year, $125 million deal to land Montgomery with the same opt-outs available we've seen in other deals signed by Scott Boras clients this winter.

Given how close the Cubs are to the first CBT threshold, it's highly unlikely Jed Hoyer will pull the trigger on Montgomery, regardless of the fact he would add some much-needed stability to the rotation. Organizationally speaking, Chicago prefers to maintain some flexibility for in-season additions at the trade deadline, which suggests this is the time that will take on the reigning World Series champs in Arlington next Thursday.