Should the #Nats Make a Bellinger style offer to Montgomery

MLBTR’s Podcast How Cody Bellinger’s Deal Affects The Other Free Agents And Why The Offseason Played Out Like This had some interesting thoughts. They also reported (last week) on the status of the negotiations with the Red Sox.

Don: I have to wonder if it makes sense for the Nats to make a Bellinger type offer to Jordan Montgomery. And yes, this is almost certainly wishful thinking.

Steve: Does Nats no good for that structure of a deal with the opt-outs. Need 3 years before an opt-out. Perfect deal for Yankees or any team that is planning on contending. They’re competing.

Don: Yankees are supposedly still pursuing Blake Snell. Signing (or trying to sign) Montgomery sends a message to the fans. Additionally, if Montgomery opts-out after the first year you could make him a QO. Not the case with Snell — he costs a pick and could not be QOed if he opted out. Montgomery can be QOed.

Steve: Okay, there is that added QO value. If the Nats were competing in 2024, that would be a deal to work.

Don: I have to think that the performance of the kids so far this spring might make the Nats a slightly more attractive destination. Even Baseball America has noticed.

Steve: Certainly the Arizona Diamondbacks had the two aces (don’t want to rehash that debate) in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly with an offense that reminds me of the Nats in many ways. But the Nats would need Snell and Montgomery to compete for a Wild Card if everything came together. Do you think the Lerner ownership is going to greenlight new spending of $60 million for a chance of a miraculous run?

Don: I doubt anyone expects a miraculous run. This is more about being respectable in 2024 and completing in 2025. While there is no way to completely eliminate the Lerner’s are cheap commentary, it does send a message to the fans that they are serious about improving the team in both the short term and the long-term.

What do you think a reasonable contract offer would be. Both years/dollars/opt-outs. And maybe some creative ideas like what the Yankees did with the Cole opt-out – which they can void by adding another year. I also wonder if a clause that voids an opt-out by adding dollars instead of years.

Steve: I think 80 percent of the Bellinger deal but again, can’t do an opt-out after year one.

Don: The MLBTR projection for Montgomery was 6/$150M. So I think about half of that to start: 3/$75M. A bit higher than 80% of the 3/$80M than Bellinger’s deal. Bellinger’s deal was was a much smaller percentage of their projection – the opt-outs are what added value.

I agree on not wanting an opt-out in year 1, but if that is what it takes to get the deal signed, I do it. But add a provision like what Cole got. If it is allowed, I don’t see why it wouldn’t, maybe the mechanism to void the opt-out is to add $s. So instead of 2 years left @50M total, it is something like 2 years at $60 total.

Steve: Kind of interesting watching Patrick Corbin really adding in the cutter into his repertoire after basically watching him regress for four years in a row. I remember when I reported in the offseason of 2021 that Max Scherzer tried to show him the cutter then. That was a game changer in Max’s career after he fell back in 2014 with Detroit. For years, the great starting pitchers have talked about tunneling and having 4 distinct pitches with different movement of straight (4-seam), cutter (horizontal plane), circle change or spiked breaking pitch (vertical drop), and breaking pitch (diagonal). The only way to beat Scherzer is guessing right and squaring him up or hitting a mistake pitch or BABIP luck. There is a reason why Max was so great in his career, and it always went back to that continual improvement.

“I’m pleased with [the cutter] so far. I think the movement and location is pretty good. I think as we continue to go, hopefully, the velo goes up a little bit (it averaged 85.5 mph today). But I think overall pretty sharp, and I’ve been locating that pitch up to this point, so I’m happy with it.”

— Corbin on his new cutter

Small sample size, but it was great watching Corbin dominate with that cutter. Certainly debate on the pitch that K’d Paul Goldschmidt for a second time. The TV guys called it a slider. Some debate if that was a cutter that he just got crazy movement. Again, where was this in 2021, 2022, and 2023?

So maybe just maybe Zach Davies takes the 5th spot in the rotation, Corbin improves along with Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore, and Jake Irvin, and Trevor Williams takes on the hybrid role in the bullpen which is a need. Seems like a win/win for the Washington Nationals. Let’s face it, the scenario is between slim-and-none that Rizzo/Lerner greenlight a big acquisition of Snell or Montgomery.

Don: Great points about Corbin. If he turns his career around and has a good year, could be a game changer. I mostly agree with your slim-and-none comment – which is why my first comment referenced wishful thinking. But we can always dream.

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