Frankie Montas Trade Score: Yankees get an ‘A’ to start plummeting and cling to better prospects

The New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics pulled out of a six-man deal on Monday afternoon, just over 24 hours away from the deadline for their 2022 Major League baseball games. The Yankees got right starter Frankie Montas and loyalist Lou Trevino in exchange for left-handed JP pitchers Sears, Ken Waldichuk, right-winger Luis Medina and second baseman Cooper Bowman.

The Yankees had already made one acquisition on Monday, adding pavilion Scott Evros of the Chicago Cubs. Montas and Trevino will join him in reinforcing the injured crew. For their part, Team A is continuing the rebuilding begun over the winter by adding a package loaded with nearly ready-made arms.

Here at CBS Sports we’re nothing if not judgmental, and that means providing near-instant analysis on the big trades this time of year. Below, you’ll find scores for both the Yankees and athletics, along with explanations for those ratings.

That way away, let’s start by summarizing the deal:

Yankees receive

  • RHP Frankie Montas
  • RHP Lou Trivino

Athletics receive

  • LHP JP Sears
  • LHP Ken Waldichuk
  • RHB Louis Medina
  • 2B Cooper Bowman

Yankees score: A

The Yankees, with the best record in the majors, came into the deadline season in need of some reinforcements. They won just as much on Monday by adding Evros and now Montas and Trevino. The Yankees had to give up three of their top 10 prospects for those promotions, according to Baseball America, including fifth and ninth youths in this deal to Montas.

After Luis Castillo traded for the Seattle Mariners last Friday, Montas has emerged as the best starting pitcher available on the market. He’s a 29-year-old with an extra season of control left in the team with a 3.49 ERA (117 ERA+) and 3.43 walking strike percentage in 91 appearances dating back to 2018.

Montas is an unusual start in the sense that it is all about brute force. His fast clocks at 96 mph and the slowest pitch in his arsenal is the 86 mph interval. This faster then faster approach defies tradition, but it works in its favour. He is able to generate a lot of swinging strokes and swing out of the strike zone.

Montas still gives some evaluators pause for his inconsistency. His next start will be on the 20th of this year, and it will be the second time he has crossed the threshold in a major league season. (To be fair, he has already started 11 times during the shortened 2020 campaign for the pandemic.) Montas has not reached that number in the past due to suspensions and injury, and his absence recently due to shoulder issues has raised eyebrows throughout the league. He’s appeared twice since then, and the Yankees (among other teams) have clearly felt comfortable with his situation.

The extra year of team control at Montas is an underrated addition for the Yankees who could lose Jameson Tellon to free agency this winter.

Trivino doesn’t have as much brand-name appeal as Montas, and its seasonal numbers aren’t pretty. In 39 games this season, he has racked up a 6.47 ERA, the worst of his career. CBS Sports recently named it one of the best candidates for the under-the-radar trade, based on the power of the new sweeping slider and the potential decline of unsustainable hitting rate on the balls.

The Yankees used to coach Reclamation Project paediatrics, including Clay Holmes and Michael King. Don’t be surprised if Trivino ends up being the next example of this. He could run a fast ball in the mid-’90s, and the aforementioned sweeper buggy has generated a jet rate of 52 percent so far, indicating he should prioritize it as his main offering in the future.

While we noted above that the Yankees have had to trade two top-10 odds for Montas and Trevino, it’s worth pointing out that the Yankees have so far been able to avoid dealing with any first-place player. No one is guessing what the Yankees will do for the rest of the deadline, if anything, but Cashman should be glad he was able to add those three guns, as well as Andrew Benentende, without breaking up with Anthony Volpe, Oswald Pereza or Iverson Pereira in this process. Besides, this is a Yankees organization that has proven adept at helping shooters make big gains in a hurry; Monday’s deals were just another reminder of that.

Athletics grade: c

Those athletics began rebuilding once the owner-imposed lockdown was lifted, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassett and Sean Manya traded. Montas’ departure came as no surprise to any attentive person. However, it is difficult to assess the return.

You could argue – as some evaluators have done with other teams – that this is an approach more quantitative than quality and that it should be higher for two sought-after veterans, at Montas and Trevino. Players fit the pitch and Auckland inclinations, though, paving the way for them to go beyond expectations and context-free ratings. (If our grading system was more complex, we could call it C which will soon look like B).

We’ll illustrate this point by focusing on the two main parts of payment: Sears and Waldichuk.

Sears, 26, is the only member of the four to see major league duty. At seven rounds, he was longer than 2.05 ERA (190 ERA+) and a 3.00 strike-to-walk ratio. These numbers do not matter. What matters is that he has a full arsenal of weapons and some basic indications that he might be able to cut it for a start.

Sears has an unusually flat firing point at the top of the area, armhole output, size, and ability to descend into the pile. It’s listed at 5 feet 11, yet it generates an extra six inches of extension, or the distance between the rubber band and its release point. By covering that ground, he’s not only making his own fastball beyond his 90’s low speed, but he’s also creating a tougher corner.

The fast paced Sears doesn’t have a lot of vertical breakage, instigator or otherwise, but it does have some of the most extreme escapes away from the right-handed hitters in the majors. In fact, it ranks 11th in this regard, behind new teammates AJ Puk and Kirby Snead, which leads us to consider Sears targeted for this reason, among others.

While Sears will likely be used in a relief ability with the Yankees, our expectation is that athletics will give him a chance to start. It seems up to the challenge.

Valdychuk, 24, has made 11 Triple A games this season. He posted a 3.59 ERA and a 3.04 hit-to-walk ratio on those rounds, indicating he’s almost ready for an adult. Depending on who you’re talking to, Waldichuk either has a good set of quick changes (with two smashed balls) or just a good quickball and an arsenal of sidekicks.

Whatever the case, Valdechuk has a sneaky delivery that messes with hitters and a special ability to throw both hits. He’s walked four strokes all nine, both this season and throughout his professional career. The A is supposed to work with him on that, but it’s unclear how much they can realistically mitigate. He will likely make his debut in the big league sooner rather than later.

Another interesting aspect of this trade for A is how they continued to target shooters during this rebuilding even though their cavernous stadium seemed to act as a built-in feature in boosting usable weapons. Over the past two seasons alone, the First Class has received more miles than expected from Cole Irvine and Paul Blackburn. It would be an overstatement to write that A can hook up just about anyone and get some decent roles from them when they’re at home, but you get the gist.

A clearly does not seem to believe themselves. They’ve had 16 players across their five “Rebuild Era” deals—this one, Bassett, Olson, Chapman, and Blocker—and 10 of those 16 were bowlers. Part of this is the nature of how the rolls work—it’s easier to find a slot for a shooter than in any other position—but some of that seems to indicate a focused effort to secure weapons, especially those who will succeed in a runway.

Is this the right call for a team that seems to have an inside advantage? Or should A focus on adding center players, or other types of skill sets that might be hard to come by? It’s a philosophical question that probably deserves its own space.

Medina, 23, is a simple right-winger with a quick and good ball who has spent the season at Double-A. Although he’s started 17 games this season, it’s a comfortable opportunity for us due to a well below average leadership drop (he’s walked more than six strokes per nine in his pro career) that resulted from his extreme arm pull. Medina will be out of options after this season, according to FanGraphs, which means he’ll be a member of the Bullpen A no later than next spring.

Bowman, from the fourth round in 2021, is a central midfielder who has primarily played at the center of the solution this season. Although at an age-appropriate level, he hits only .217/.343/.355 with eight home runs in 364 trips to the plate.

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