Jordan Montgomery remains on the market. It’s the Red Sox’s last chance to sign him


The season begins next Thursday for the Red Sox.

Roster cuts have begun, position battles are in full bloom and bullpen shuffling is in the works. Red Sox pitching has been good this spring, as the staff currently has the fourth-best ERA at 3.82. They rank among the top-10 teams in strikeouts.

And yet it still feels like not enough.

A few weeks ago we begged the question: Why are the Red Sox still playing the waiting game with Jordan Montgomery?

We could ask the same thing today.

On Monday, Blake Snell signed a two-year, $62 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, knocking down one more domino of the last remaining big name free-agent pitchers still on the market. Snell never seemed like a good fit for the Red Sox given the qualifying offer attached to him, meaning they’d have to surrender a second-round pick and international bonus pool money. But Snell and Montgomery are both Scott Boras clients, as has been well documented this winter, and now Montgomery is the lone big arm left on the market. On Wednesday, right-hander Michael Lorenzen signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers. Montgomery carries a different pedigree and level of success, but the Red Sox seemingly didn’t even want to add Lorenzen as insurance on short, low money deal.

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By some logic, if the Red Sox haven’t signed Montgomery by now, they probably aren’t going to. On the other hand, the Red Sox could add $25 million in payroll and still not hit the luxury tax threshold this season. But even if Montgomery has backed off his pursuit for a seven-year deal, like he was still seeking as of two weeks ago, the Red Sox are not the only team in need of pitching.

The Yankees will be without Gerrit Cole for the foreseeable future. The Astros are dealing with injuries to Justin Verlander and José Urquidy, and the Blue Jays have been hit with the pitching injury bug, too.

In fact, pitcher injuries seemed to have skyrocketed this spring. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal recently spoke with Texas team physician Kieth Meister about the causes and the rash of injuries that doesn’t seem to be subsiding anytime soon.

That should mean the competition for Montgomery would be tougher with other teams surely in the mix, but it doesn’t seem like that’s been the reality of late.

There are other things to consider when signing any pitcher to a big deal this late in spring, though. Montgomery has been working out all spring at Boras’ complex in Florida. Yet he hasn’t been facing big-league competition and spring training is especially important for pitchers, not just to build up arm strength, but to prepare for game speed. Any pitcher will tell you it’s different getting innings in during a minor-league game on the backfields versus pitching in a game against big-league hitters. So it begs the question, how ready will Montgomery be when he does sign?

Even if he is ready, will he try to ramp up too soon and face an injury setback similar to those sweeping across the game this spring? Perhaps having pitched deep into the postseason with the Rangers last season, the extra rest will do him good and a slow spring will benefit him, but facing big-league hitters in the spring is always an important step for pitchers and time is running out.

That’s not to mention how quickly Montgomery will have to get up to speed with new catchers and a new pitching program. Wherever he signs, it’s going to be a lot of adjusting on the fly, which typically isn’t an easy recipe for success.

None of this is to suggest that any team signing him — particularly a team in need of more pitching like the Red Sox — won’t immediately get a boost to its rotation. But how much longer can Montgomery wait?

The Red Sox pegged Brayan Bello as their Opening Day starter next Thursday in Seattle with Nick Pivetta pitching the second game. Will Montgomery be in the mix by then? It’s been five months of waiting, but with one week to go before the season starts, the answer might finally be drawing near.

(Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)





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