Red Sox Target: RHP Frankie Montas
Like the Reds, the Athletics are in the middle of a fire sale. Less than a week after the lockout ended, the Athletics have already traded their two best players, sending power-hitting first baseman Matt Olson to the Braves and defensive wizard Matt Chapman to the third baseman. With talent remaining on the roster, there are still pieces to be moved from an 86-win team in 2021.
Two starters who could provide an immediate boost to the Red Sox rotation are Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. Each starter posted an ERA under 4.00 last season and struck out around 200 batters, and neither is making enough money to push the Red Sox above the luxury tax threshold.
Yet while both pitchers are frontline starters, one is clearly a better option than the other. Manaea is left-handed, a bad matchup in the AL East where the Blue Jays and the Yankees have basically assembled All-Star teams of the right-handed hitters. And while Montas is under control for two more seasons, Manaea is a free agent at the end of 2022.
Besides being right-handed and controllable, there’s a lot to like about Montas’ profile. He struggled to the tune of 6.20 ERA in April but rebounded with a 2.94 ERA the rest of the way. The key to his success was increasing the use of his nasty splitter, holding batters to a .126 batting average and .168 slugging percentage on the pitch.
He also significantly cut down his walk rate, dropping his BB/9 from 3.9 to 2.7. The result was a 3.37 ERA and 207 strikeouts, both of which ranked 4th in the American League.
Equal parts talented, young and controllable, it will take a steep price for the Red Sox to acquire Montas. Yet Montas showed last year that he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball, and if the Red Sox are serious about competing in 2022, they will bring in the big right-hander.