The Red Sox quietly added to their bullpen depth on July 20. Just not the major league bullpen. Mark Montgomery was signed to a minor league contract.
On Friday, July 20, the Red Sox inked a 27 year old minor league journeyman named Mark Montgomery. He was pitching for the Tigers AAA affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens when he suffered an elbow injury that threatens to end his season. It’s not a UCL tear, but little more is known about it at this time. Rather than let him rehab, the Mud Hens released him and the Red Sox swooped in to pick him up.
The deal runs through the end of next season which gives Montgomery plenty of time to get back on the mound and potentially contribute at the major league level sometime in 2019. And, as a minor league deal, they aren’t on the hook for a significant enough amount of money to have an impact on off season deals to replace the potentially departing Drew Pomeranz and Craig Kimbrel. While there is little chance he would be an impact reliever, providing solid middle relief innings is valuable in its own right.
What are the Red Sox getting?
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Mark Montgomery was drafted in the 11th round of the 2011 draft by the New York Yankees. He worked his way through their farm system for six seasons before being released after posting a 2.92 ERA over 24.2 innings for the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The issue was likely the 4.01 BB/9 mixed with how loaded the system was. He signed with the Cardinals and improved his ERA to 2.43 while improving his BB/9 to 2.03 for their AAA affiliate. Even still, he was not retained and the Tigers gave him a shot. At the moment of his release he had a 1.98 ERA with a 2.60 FIP and a 3.53 xFIP over 13.2 IP. His 11.20 K/9 looks great, but a 5.27 BB/9 shows that walks are still a concern.
That said, an elbow injury will wreck havoc on a pitcher’s ability to locate, so there is reason to hope that he can get that back under control next season. His .415 BABIP is another indication he could be due for some positive regression. Chances are Mark Montgomery isn’t going to become a household name for Red Sox fans. But there’s a better than fair chance he could see some innings at the big league level next year if the elbow injury isn’t one that will require surgery.
If anything, he could play the Bobby Poyner role. As we’ve seen this season, having decent relief pitching depth in the minors can be incredibly useful. But if there was an impact arm in there, there is little chance that three other big league teams would have walked away from him. Have any thoughts on the signing of Mark Montgomery? Let us know in the comments!