IT IS ALIVE! The hot stove is lit and the tradez have started to roll in. Theo Epstein made (one of) his move(s) today. It has long been rumored the Cubs were going to go after Andrew Miller to fill the need of the left-handed reliever, but that hole has been (presumably) filled. The Cubs traded Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn for Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries. I really, really like this deal and here’s why.
LHP Mike Montgomery
Montgomery is a lefty utility pitcher who can both start and relieve. He features a fastball that averages around 95 and has gotten up to 97 out of the pen. He also has a good curve and uses his sinker, cutter, and change up about 10-15% of the time respectively. Great stuff doesn’t always equal results, but for Montgomery it has.
He’s sporting a 2.34 ERA and a 3.20 FIP in 61.2 innings, as well as a .217 AVG against and a classy 1.09 WHIP. In other words, he’s been very solid. But here’s where it gets even better. Montgomery can’t become a free agent until 2022. Considering his flexibility and the Cubs’ starting pitching situation over the next couple years (Hammel, Lackey, even *gasp* Arrieta), this may insulate them somewhat from the need to go all out for a starter. Since @Cubs is the best, I’ll throw this in.
Montgomery, 27, has a 2.34 ERA and 54/18 K/BB in 32 appearances (61.2 IP) this season. Lefties are hitting .164 against him.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 20, 2016
RHP Jordan Pries
I honestly don’t know very much here. He’s pitching at AAA Tacoma and in his limited appearances there has been good. I say limited because he was in AA to start the year and he was not so good there. I wanted to get this up for everyone so I’m not too sure of his stuff. Would imagine he struggles with command but has a good fastball. Seems to be a fill-in piece.
RHH Dan Vogelbach
Listen, he needed to be moved. He was a sitting duck with no position at the major league level on top of not being able to play in the field. He’s Billy Butler but can’t run and field as well. In other words, he’s a DH and a DH only. He’s got great offensive numbers and a good amount of value but, again, he needed to be moved.
RHP Paul Blackburn
A one-time high-end starting pitching prospect, he has fallen back a little. His progression has been slow as he’s still only in AA but he’s still got back-end-of-the-rotation potential, though most think he will end up in the bullpen. He’s got good numbers on the year featuring limited homers, good K numbers and a very fair ERA of 3.17.
In summation, I really like this deal. The Cubs fill a need and add pitching depth while getting rid of a guy who really didn’t have a future in Chicago. Ultimately, I see this as two deals. The first is Vogelbach for Montgomery. A really good relief pitcher for a really good hitter who was inevitably going to be traded. Montgomery’s extended team control gives him even more value.
The second deal is Pries for Blackburn. I think the Cubs fall behind here a little bit but that’s only because I’m biased and really liked Blackburn when he was a high-end prospect. Both pitchers are minor league depth for right now so it’s not too big of a deal. One more thing, I want to touch on Andrew Miller. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that the Cubs still go after him, but it is no longer a necessity as the Cubs got their lefty relief piece.
What does everyone else think?