As Frankie Montas prepares to take the mound for the Athletics Sunday against the Seattle Mariners, trade rumors continue to swirl around the 29-year-old pitcher.
But it’s nothing new for the Oakland starter, whose 3-8 record for the A’s this season does little to show the part he has played on the hill.
With a 3.20 ERA and 1.08 WHIP across 95 2/3 innings so far in 2022, Montas and his 99 strikeouts on the season would fit in nicely at the top of the rotation on a contending team -- and it’s no secret the A’s are in the middle of a rebuild.
Unsurprisingly, there will be plenty of clubs inquiring about Montas’ services as the trade deadline approaches. But there appears to be a new frontrunner, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Saturday that the St. Louis Cardinals “are viewed by some rival execs as a favorite” to land Montas.
With Montas under team control for another year, the right-hander is an enticing alternative to the Cardinals scoping the free agent market next offseason after Adam Wainwright’s anticipated retirement.
Plus, second-place St. Louis is fighting for control of the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers, who hold a one-game advantage for first place entering Sunday.
Adding Montas to a Cardinals rotation that has seen three starters make recent trips to the IL would be huge, and the added threat combined with Wainwright and Miles Mikolas could provide the edge St. Louis is looking for within their division.
Olney cites the Cardinals as having “the most acute need” and notes other trade pieces like Cincinnati Reds starters Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle likely won’t be available for trade to a division rival like St. Louis. But whether or not the Cardinals can come up with the right price for Montas remains to be seen, and the A's certainly have leverage with a such a desirable asset up for grabs.
In his last start on Tuesday against the New York Yankees, Montas fanned seven and held baseball’s best offense to two runs over six innings -- but was handed another loss after the 2-1 ball game thanks to a lack of run support.
He told reporters after the loss that he’s blocking out the trade rumors with one goal in mind: “Just pitch.”