The St. Louis Cardinals traded starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery to the Texas Rangers and reliever Jordan Hicks to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
St. Louis is also sending reliever Chris Stratton to Texas. The Cardinals will receive infielder Thomas Saggese and pitchers Tekoah Roby and John King from the Rangers. The Blue Jays are sending right-handed pitching prospects Sem Robberse and Adam Kloffenstein to St. Louis in the Hicks deal. The teams confirmed the transactions following multiple reports.
Rangers stocking up as AL West race tightens
In an effort to fast-track their path to contention, the Rangers under former pitcher and current general manager Chris Young have leaned on the philosophy that you can never have enough pitching. That approach in the offseason allowed them to survive season-ending surgery for Jacob deGrom after just six starts with the fifth-best rotation ERA in the American League and a division lead in the AL West.
Now, with the Houston Astros gaining ground in the division and the Rangers forced to put their ace this season, Nathan Eovaldi, on the 15-day injured list due to forearm strain, Young is taking advantage of the trade deadline to double down on that strategy. Late Saturday, the Rangers swung a trade for deGrom’s former co-ace, Max Scherzer, from a Mets team looking to salvage something from a historically disappointing season.
On Sunday, they acquired one of if not the best starter remaining on the market and further bullpen depth by acquiring Montgomery and Stratton from a Cardinals club that also never expected to be selling this summer.
Montgomery spent barely a year in St. Louis after being dealt to the Cardinals from the Yankees at last year’s deadline. Although his underlying metrics are underwhelming, the 30-year-old southpaw has been the Cardinals’ most reliable starter this season. He has a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts this season, with a high ground-ball percentage and a low home run rate.
Stratton joins Aroldis Chapman in the Rangers’ efforts to bolster a bullpen that has been a weak spot this season.
Rangers going for it
The Rangers, who lost 100-plus games as recently as 2021, have shown how quickly a team can ascend the standings if it acts aggressively. After two winters of handing out mega-contracts, Texas’ position player core is paying off this year, with arguably the best offense in baseball. In an effort to capitalize on that moment, they’ve surrendered three of their top 15 prospects in exchange for rentals in the span of a single weekend between the Scherzer and Montgomery deals.
They certainly look like a team that could make a deep October run, rendering those moves worth it. The postseason is unpredictable, but an overabundance of available arms is one of the surest ways to have success.
Blue Jays beef up bullpen with Jordan Romano sidelined
Hicks, 26, will arrive in Toronto with All-Star closer Jordan Romano on the injured list due to back inflammation. He has a 3.67 ERA and 1.512 WHIP with 59 strikeouts and 24 walks in 41 2/3 innings this season. He was tied with Giovanny Gallegos for the Cardinals’ lead in saves, with eight.
A hard thrower, Hicks is capable of hitting 104 mph with his sinker. He’ll be a free agent in the offseason.
The 59-47 Blue Jays are in the thick of the AL wild-card race and five games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East at the time of the trade.
The 46-60 Cardinals are in last place in the NL Central. While they’re sellers at the deadline amid a disappointing season, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said they don’t intent to trade All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado.