NL West Notes: D’Backs, Montgomery, Buehler, Monfort

NL West Notes: D’Backs, Montgomery, Buehler, Monfort

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The Diamondbacks officially introduced Jordan Montgomery at a press conference yesterday, with Montgomery, agent Scott Boras, and several team officials answering questions from the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro, Alex Weiner of Arizona Sports, and other media.  D’Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick said that the club initially checked in on Montgomery early in the offseason but weren’t eager to meet the asking price at the time.  As Montgomery’s stay in free agency ended up stretching almost to the very end of Spring Training, GM Mike Hazen and assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye started to explore the idea of re-engaging with the southpaw, and negotiations both started and ended within just a few days’ time.

The two sides agreed to a one-year, $25MM contract with a $20MM vesting player option and opt-out clause covering the 2025 season.  Boras said Montgomery had some longer-term offers but “Jordan’s edict to me was, ’I want to play for a competitive team.  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.’….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.”

From Arizona’s perspective, adding Montgomery boosts payroll to a team-record $168MM for 2024, yet Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall are comfortable with the extra spending in order to keep the team in championship contention.  While Hall hinted that the D’Backs might need another lengthy postseason trip to sustain a higher payroll into 2025, Arizona’s run to the World Series last year already provided enough of an extra revenue boost (both in ticket sales during the playoffs and more tickets already sold for this season) to justify more of all-in push in 2024.

Some other items from the NL West…

Walker Buehler will throw four or five innings in a Triple-A rehab start on Sunday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times).  Sunday’s outing will be the first of four rehab starts for Buehler, as per the team’s current plans, though things remain fluid as the Dodgers want to be as careful as possible in managing Buehler’s return after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2022.  Buehler is already well beyond the normal 13-15 rehab window, though obviously not every recovery process is the same for every pitcher, plus this was also the second TJ procedure of Buehler’s career.  If all goes well at Triple-A, Buehler should be on track to be part of the L.A. rotation before April is over.
“I do feel like we are on the right track,” Rockies owner Dick Monfort told the Denver Post’s Troy Renck, with Monfort citing his team’s up-and-coming core of young talent and his ongoing trust in GM Bill Schmidt and manager Bud Black.  Colorado has had only five winning seasons since the Monfort family bought the team in late 2005, and things seemed to bottom out last year when the Rox lost a club-record 103 games.  Still, Monfort believes in the “organic” strategy of relying on homegrown prospects and only mid-range payrolls, as Monfort is critical of the revenue disparities among Major League franchises.  Denver fans have themselves long been critical of Monfort’s approach due to the lack of on-field success, and Monfort has frequently come under fire for his perpetually over-optimistic view of his team’s fortunes and the Rockies’ reliance on long-time employees.  While Monfort admitted that he worries about being too loyal at times, he noted that when looking to replace former GM Jeff Bridich, he wasn’t impressed by external candidates’ plans to fix the team.  “They would tell me how to win at altitude and everything they mentioned, it would not have worked, or it’s all things we have tried.  I think in any business you have to have people you can trust, and I trust [Schmidt and Black],” Monfort said.

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