Veteran left-hander Mike Montgomery will finalize a contract with the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization today, MLBTR has confirmed. Naver Sports in South Korea first reported that a deal between the Lions and the Ballengee Group client was “likely.”
Montgomery, 31, was in Spring Training with the Mets but didn’t land a roster spot. He quickly signed with the Yankees back on April 5, but his minor league deal contained an opt-out clause that he’s now exercised. Montgomery was hit hard in a tiny sample of 16 2/3 innings with the Yankees’ top affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he of course has a rather successful track record in parts of six Major League seasons.
The No. 36 overall pick by the Royals back in 2008, Montgomery was traded to the Rays 2012’s Wil Myers/James Shields/Jake Odorizzi deal before being flipped to the Mariners in exchange for Erasmo Ramirez in 2015. A third trade in 2016 then sent him to the Cubs in exchange for Daniel Vogelbach, and the Cubs completed the circle when they traded him back to Kansas City in a 2019 swap that sent Martin Maldonado to Chicago.
Montgomery has spent the bulk of his career in Chicago but also appeared with Seattle and Kansas City. On the whole, he’s put together a 3.84 ERA in 541 Major League frames, striking out 18 percent of his opponents against an 8.8 percent walk rate. He’s also generated grounders at a healthy 53.6 percent clip during his big league tenure. He opened the 2020 season on the Royals’ staff but was ultimately limited to just 5 1/3 innings after suffering a lat strain that sent him to the 60-day injured list. That marked the second straight season in which a lat strain had sidelined Montgomery.
According to the Naver report, the Lions are on the lookout for a replacement for right-hander Ben Lively, who was recently diagnosed with a shoulder injury. Montgomery would step onto the Lions’ roster as their second foreign pitcher, the maximum allowed under KBO rules, joining former Phillies righty David Buchanan, who has been excellent for the Lions since joining them for the 2020 season.
Montgomery will have the opportunity to finish out the 2021 season with the Lions. If he enjoys success in his new environs, that could lead to either an offer to return in 2022 or perhaps interest elsewhere overseas or back in North America.