Montas, who suffered shoulder tightness just before the All-Star break and his developing trade stock took a tough hit, re-established his value with a pair of solid outings in his return. On the season, Montas is 4-9 with a 3.18 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings in 19 starts. His 1.14 WHIP ranks 10th among American League starters.
Montas remains under team control through the 2023 season, which A’s general manager David Forst has cited on multiple occasions as the reason he was in no rush to trade him. The A’s wanted the right return for what they thought was the top pitcher on the market, and they got a package titled left-hander Ken Waldychuk — a product of St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga who rated the Yankees’. No. 5 chance and the No. 70 overall chance MLB Pipeline’s most recent rankings. Also coming from New York are right-hander Luis Medina (the Yankees’ No. 10 prospect), left-hander JP Sears (No. 20) and second baseman Cooper Bowman (No. 21).
All four enter the A’s top 30 rankings in MLB Pipeline: Waldychuk no. 3, Madina no. 7, Sears no. 19 and Bowman no. 29.
“If we’re not major league ready, we’ve got three pitchers who are pretty close,” Forst said. “Sears has been in the big leagues and we got to see him up close and personal in New York a few months ago. We think all three guys are close to being in the major league rotation, and Bowman is a guy who has had an amazing first full year in the draft. I’m excited to add all of them to our organization.
After Chris Bassitt, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Sean Manaea were traded in the three-week span, the A’s received a lot of interest from several teams during spring training regarding Montas as Oakland’s next star. Despite the encouraging progress over the past month, the focus is on continuing to bolster a farm system that now has several promising prospects that could help lead the A’s into playoff contention over the next two years.
Montas, 29, was originally traded from the Dodgers to the Aces in August 2016 and went through some ups and downs as a young pitcher before fully evolving from a hard thrower to a pitcher with prime stuff. In six seasons with Oakland, Montas went 35-30 with a 3.70 ERA in 114 games (89 starts) and produced a splitter that became one of the most dominant pitches in the game.
Trevino, drafted by the A’s in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, began the year as Oakland’s closer, but eventually lost that role after a shaky start. He has a 6.47 ERA with 10 saves in 39 relief appearances this season.
Waldychuk, 24, will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was a fifth-round pick by the Yankees in the 2019 MLB Draft after starring at St. Mary’s and has a 3.00 ERA in 50 career minor league games (48 starts) with 328 strikeouts in 215 2/3 innings. After dominating at Double-A Somerset to start the 2022 campaign with a 1.26 ERA in six starts, Waldychuk was quickly promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he had a 3.59 ERA with 70 strikeouts over 47 2-over 11 starts. /3 innings.
Waldychuk delivers a four-seam fastball that clocks in at 92-95 mph. His fading low-80s changeup and sweeping slider are pluses out when at their best, and lefties are also working on adding more depth to his curveball. Overall, it’s a four-pitch combination that has him poised to slot into Oakland’s starting rotation.
Sears, 26, has split time between Triple-A and the major leagues this season, posting a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings pitched in seven games (two starts) with the Yankees. He is 1-1 with a 1.67 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) at Triple-A. Given his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame, Sears profiles more as a multi-inning reliever than a rotation piece. Sears will also report to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Medina, 23, is a big arm whose fastball sits at 96-99 mph with cutting action at 103 mph. He had command problems this season at Double-A Somerset, where he was 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 81 strikeouts with 40 walks in 72 innings. If Medina can overcome his command issues, he will be viewed as a potential front-line starter. Otherwise, the bullpen is where he could go as a big leaguer. For now, he’ll join the starting rotation at Double-A Midland.
Between the spring trades and Monday’s moves, the A’s have significantly improved their pitching depth across the system. Five of their top 10 prospects are now pitchers (Waldychuk, Medina, Gunnar Hoglund, JD Zinn, Ryan Cusick) acquired in trades since March.
“I wouldn’t say we should target pitching in any of the deals we’ve made since March,” Forst said. “Ultimately, with the systems that we’re dealing with, that’s where we landed. Of course, after this deal, you look at the pitchers that have been added to our system in the last couple of months, and I feel really good about our depth going forward. … You add these three guys and it’s our An amazingly deep team for the organization.
Bowman, 22, was a fourth-round pick by New York in the 2021 MLB Draft. He was plus plus speed at High-A Hudson Valley, where he swiped 35 bases while slashing .217/.343/.355 with eight homers and 15 doubles in 80 games.
A few player names have been floating around in trade rumors lately, including outfielder Ramon Laureno and catcher Sean Murphy. With Tuesday’s 3 PM PT deadline quickly approaching, Foust said he expects trade talks around the league to heat up, including his ongoing discussions with other clubs.
“We’re going to look at the opportunities that are out there,” Forst said. “Like everything, we’re balancing players that contribute to what we think we can achieve for future teams. I don’t have a checklist of things to do before. [the Trade Deadline.] We constantly know where the opportunities are.
“Everything has a chance. Speed usually increases in the last 24 hours with any time limit in this game. We will be ready for anything.