ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

How did the Diamondbacks pull off the Jordan Montgomery deal?

Mar 29, 2024, 6:35 PM | Updated: 7:55 pm

Jordan Montgomery...

Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Texas Rangers prepares to pitch against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning in Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 20, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks and left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery’s camp came together quickly to get a deal done on the heels of Opening Day.

Montgomery said the D-backs hadn’t been on his radar long, that it felt like two days went by and he was on a flight to Arizona ahead of Friday’s introductory press conference.

The process evolved in the past five days, as Montgomery ending up in Arizona was a result of a unique free agent market, where the D-backs see themselves in the competitive landscape and what Montgomery wanted out of a suitor.

Montgomery entered the offseason as one of the most accomplished pitchers in free agency fresh off a World Series run with the Texas Rangers. He has trended in the right direction, improving his ERA and FIP in each of the past three seasons while increasing his innings. Montgomery’s agent, Scott Boras, called him the “Astro Assassin” for his heroics in the ALCS versus Houston.

The Diamondbacks saw a rare opportunity with Montgomery unsigned at the end of spring training. Boras said D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye checked in to see what was going on.

Montgomery agreed a one-year deal worth $25 million with a vesting player option for 2025 officially on Friday — thus he will not be qualifying offer eligible, which was deliberate.

General manager Mike Hazen said he met with managing partner Ken Kendrick and president/CEO Derrick Hall multiple times at the end of spring training and brought up the idea of making a final splash to boost the roster.

“It’s our job to continue to pursue the market as it sits,” Hazen said. “We have these conversations all the time. Sometimes it’s us just throwing ideas around. Sometimes we feel like it’s something we go to ownership and say we’d recommend pursuing.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of back and forth on whether we should or not. … Without getting into specifics, which I’m not going to, I’ll just say that walking into Ken and Derrick’s and talking through some of these things, I would sum it up as a resounding continue to push to put the absolute best team on the field that is capable of going deep into the playoffs.”

 

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Boras said the market — impacted by the changing television landscape — hurt bigger name players like Montgomery, and many ended up with short deals and options to try again after a year. Teams committed only five contracts of five or more guaranteed seasons, way down from 14 such deals a year ago.

Kendrick mentioned Montgomery was seen as a candidate to pursue early in the offseason as the D-backs were looking to add veteran pitching, but they were “looking at what appeared to be numbers way different than where we ended up, longer term.”

Arizona ended up signing Eduardo Rodriguez to a four-year, $80 million deal, who is missing the start of the season due to a lat strain.

Kendrick said the injury did not impact the Montgomery decision. Rodriguez has already started throwing up to 60 feet with plans to jump on a mound soon.

Kendrick likened it closer to the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, when the D-backs were not seen as a favorite to land the former Cy Young but capitalized on an opportunity.

“How did it come together? Quickly,” Kendrick said. “We been through a couple of these situations. I think some of you would remember, there was one of those situations a few years ago, the guy was named Greinke.

“There was a lot of dialogue going on with others, and we were just observing. We saw an opportunity and took it. And in this case, we saw an opportunity, and thank goodness for last year’s playoff run because the economics of our ability to justify an investment like Jordan was helped by that.”

The Diamondbacks were the fourth-highest spending team in free agency this offseason at an estimated $161.5 million. The revenue earned from the postseason run led to significant investment in the roster, and Kendrick said they are prepared to add at the deadline if the club’s season goes to plan.

Boras said his client had longer-term options on the table, as well as others in a similar light as the one he took. Montgomery, though, was adamant about joining a team he felt was going to contend.

He met the D-backs head-to-head in the World Series, winning his first championship at Chase Field.

“Jordan’s edict to me was, ‘I want to play for a competitive team,'” Boras said. “I want to make sure that I’m there and if I have to take something short-term to play for a competitive team, I will.

“Certainly that’s how we kind of opened this door. … It resulted in I think a deal that served our purposes in the short term and certainly served Jordan’s competitiveness needs and put an evaluation on I think his performance for this year and potentially next year that was appropriate for what he’s done.”

Montgomery pointed to the talent on the roster and a clubhouse culture he’s heard about as draws to the D-backs.

He has some familiarity in the clubhouse as a college teammate of first baseman Christian Walker at South Carolina and a teammate of reliever Joe Mantiply in the New York Yankees’ farm system. He also trained alongside Brandon Pfaadt during the 2021 and 2022 offseasons in Louisville.

“Sometimes things don’t work out the way we plan it,” Montgomery said. “I’m not the one creating the plan and just trying to go along with it. I’m happy to be a D-back and try and help this team out where I can.”

Montgomery said the plan is for him to make his D-backs debut on April 19 after getting work in with Triple-A Reno.

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How did the Diamondbacks pull off the Jordan Montgomery deal?