March 16: The Royals, who just trimmed more than $7MM in payroll in their surprising Mike Minor trade, are among the teams pursuing Athletics right-hander Frankie Montas, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. If Montas goes elsewhere, Rosenthal adds that the Royals still hope to add a veteran right-handed starter with some of their newfound payroll space.
Montas is among the most popular players remaining on the trade market, having been linked in recent days to the Twins, White Sox, Yankees and now the Royals. Other clubs are surely working diligently to pry the soon-to-be 29-year-old righty away from Oakland.
That’s hardly a surprise, given the Athletics’ clear willingness to trade veterans and the strong year Montas put together in 2021. Last year, the hard-throwing righty tossed 187 innings of 3.37 ERA ball while notching a strong 26.6% strikeout rate against a 7.3% walk rate. Projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.2MM this coming season, Montas is controlled via arbitration through the 2023 campaign.
The Royals, as currently constructed, would be heavily reliant on a collection of talented but largely unproven young starters in a season where they hope to return to competitive status within a relatively weak AL Central division. Brad Keller is the team’s most veteran starter now that Minor has been moved, but he’s in need of a rebound after a career-worst performance in 2021. Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Carlos Hernandez, Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar and Jonathan Heasley will all be in the mix for rotation opportunities, but of that group, only Singer has had much in the way of sustained MLB success — and even he is looking to rebound after something of a sophomore slump.
Kansas City, heartened by the looming debuts of ballyhooed prospects like Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez and others, hope that the strength of their young core can help lift them in the standings. Acquiring Montas would substantially boost their chances of doing so, although the mere fact that they’re in pursuit of him serves as further indication that in spite of a mostly quiet offseason, the organization believes the window to compete is opening.