Another spring training injury could force Mets hand with Jordan Montgomery

The New York Mets could have no choice but to consider Jordan Montgomery.

Jordan Montgomery, Texas Rangers
Jordan Montgomery, Texas Rangers / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Mets cannot catch a break.

Last season, there was tremendous excitement around the Justin Verlander-Max Scherzer duo. By the trade deadline, both were on new teams.

There was a silver lining, of course, in the form of Kodai Senga. He finished his first MLB season with an impressive 2.98 ERA and appeared set to start his sophomore campaign as New York's top ace. Alas, Senga will now start the 2024 season on the IL due to a posterior capsule strain in his throwing shoulder.

Without Senga, the Mets' rotation gets dicey. Jose Quintana is the only projected starter who posted a sub-4.00 ERA last season. Luis Severino, Sean Manea, and Adrian Houser is an impressive collection of mediocre, over-the-hill vets. The No. 5 spot is a complete free-for-all in spring training. FanGraphs projects 26-year-old Tylor Megill as New York's fifth starter, but Joey Lucchesi and Jose Butto are in the mix, too.

No longer an option, however, is 26-year-old Max Kranick. He suffered a left hamstring strain in spring training and will "be down a while," per Mets manager Carlos Mendoza.

As the Mets continue to run out of arms, one can't help but glance at the free-agent pool. Jordan Montgomery is still unsigned, and well within Steve Cohen's price range if the Mets decide to buckle in and try to earnestly compete.

Mets injury bug could put Jordan Montgomery back on the radar

David Stearns has said he's comfortable with the Mets' current group, urging fans not to expect another major addition to the pitching staff. Actions speak louder than words, however, and the Mets can still install a beacon of hope by getting on the phone with Montgomery and his agent, Scott Boras.

The expected asking price for Montgomery is somewhere in the range of Aaron Nola's seven-year, $172 million deal with the Phillies. That said, with the regular season right around the corner, Montgomery will need to budge eventually. New York has the deepest pockets in baseball. All it takes is a solid offer a few ticks below Montgomery's initial asking price to move the Mets from off the radar to frontrunner status.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post recently laid out the case for bringing Montgomery into the Mets' rotation. It's fairly simple — once Senga is back, the Mets would have a 1-2 punch that can actually lead a contender.

"A healthy Senga/Montgomery combo would be a cornerstone to try to make the playoffs this year and to build around going forward. And one more item with Montgomery: He could not be made the qualifying offer, so there is no draft pick compensation tied to him; another element that does not disrupt the Mets’ big-picture plans."

The reason New York has been more financially conservative in the 2024 offseason is a mounting focus on the future. Pete Alonso is a real midseason trade candidate. The Mets are starting to assess their 2024 chances frankly and think about what's next. That is all good and well, but Alonso is still on the roster. So is Francisco Lindor. With Senga expected back eventually, the Mets can put a decent product on the field this season.

Montgomery accomplishes that without completely wiping out the Mets' long-term cap sheet. He will cost a lot, but he's a tier-two ace. Especially if the price comes down, Montgomery will provide a level of reliability the Mets come to appreciate. His postseason experience is especially valuable for a young group.

All it takes is a change of heart. The Mets are more than capable of landing Montgomery. Maybe now, with their backs against the wall, Stearns and the front office start to seriously consider the possibility.

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