Former Oakland Athletics star Frankie Montas has signed a free agent deal with the Reds, according to Jon Heyman of the NY Post. The deal is for one year and $14 million. It includes a mutual option for a second year at $20 million, with a $2 million buyout.
The former A's righty has struggled since being traded to the Yankees in 2022. He pitched just over 40 innings in the 1.5 seasons he spent there. He posted a 6.35 ERA with the Yankees in 2022 and missed essentially the entire 2023 season with a shoulder issue.
The $16 million is considerably more than most people expected Montas to get. Despite his success in Oakland, he's only had one fully healthy season in his career, back in 2021 where he made a full 32 starts.
To this point, he has a career 3.90 ERA but has only thrown 593 innings in his 8 major league seasons. His 24% strikeout rate is a tick above league average and he should still have elite velocity with the fastball, but it's unclear whether those skills will translate to future success after missing all of last year.
Cincinnati is well known for having one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the majors, which doesn't help Montas' chances. It's possible that the lights shined a bit too bright for Montas in New York, but it's unfortunate to see him lose the thread as much as he did.
It's possible that he can return to his past success with the Reds. Their organization is filled with a number of young stud infielders, but they struggled on the mound in 2023. Montas is the Reds most recent free agent addition. They've also signed infielder Jeimer Candelario and pitcher Nick Martinez.
It's an interesting strategy for the Reds, mostly avoiding the top tier free agents in favor of overpaying a group of guys in the middle. Whether it works out for them is to be determined, but we'd love to see Montas get back to the best version of himself.
If their young starters Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo can remain healthy and they get good performance out of Montas and Martinez, the Reds could be a dark horse candidate to win the NL Central in 2024.