Jordan Montgomery addition exemplifies Arizona Diamondbacks’ willingness to compete for another World Series

The Arizona Diamondbacks surprised the baseball community by signing Jordan Montgomery to a one-year, $25 million deal. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – After a plethora of signings in the offseason, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen repeatedly emphasized throughout spring training that the team was not done improving its roster.

He wasn’t kidding. The Diamondbacks are officially alive.

As the sun set Tuesday, the team struck a one-year, $25 million deal with free-agent starter Jordan Montgomery, with a player option for 2025. Montgomery can earn $20 million in 2025 with 10 starts this season, $22.5 million with 18 starts and $25 million with 23 starts.

This signing comes just five months after Montgomery faced the Diamondbacks in the World Series and 48 hours before Thursday’s Opening Day at Chase Field, as the Diamondbacks were looking to add one last piece to the puzzle in hopes of returning to the Fall Classic.

“The people around the stadium are here and energized and it means the start of a new year,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said regarding Opening Day. “This stadium is going to be filled with emotion. This stadium is going to be filled with energy that we deserve to feel. The fans deserve to give it off and we’re excited to see our fans.”

Montgomery was without a team all offseason and thus missed the entirety of spring training. Because of this, he will likely need time to get up to speed but will eventually join Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Brandon Pfaadt and a healthy Eduardo Rodriguez – who was placed on the injured list after suffering a lat strain – in one of the league’s most commanding rotations.

“Who wouldn’t like to have a Montgomery?” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy told the New York Post on March 19. “What a great teammate along with a tremendous pitcher.”

Montgomery was a part of the Rangers team that won the 2023 World Series, pitching to a 2.90 ERA in 31 postseason innings en route to his first championship ring. Montgomery spent two-thirds of last season with the St. Louis Cardinals before being traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline. For the season, Montgomery had a 3.20 ERA in 188 ⅔ innings while striking out 166 batters.

Montgomery’s signing is just the cherry on top for the Diamondbacks. After a 2023 campaign where they reached the World Series for the first time since 2001, the Diamondbacks sought to add numerous pieces over the offseason.

In addition to Montgomery and Rodriguez, the team re-signed outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., signed outfielders Joc Pederson and Randal Grichuk and traded for Seattle Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez.

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“I can’t thank ownership for committing the way they did,” Lovullo said early in spring training. “Pederson, Suarez, Eduardo Rodriguez to name a few. We know they’re going to help us win ball games.”

Prior to the Montgomery signing – along with Rodriguez’s injury – the team was going to go with a rotation of Gallen, Kelly, southpaw Tommy Henry, Pfaadt and right-hander Ryne Nelson with sixth-starter Bryce Jarvis coming out of the bullpen. With the addition of Montgomery, this will likely look different by the end of April.

With Rodriguez’s injury, the Diamondbacks’ rotation was exposed with youth following Gallen and Kelly. Nonetheless, the signing of Montgomery is a testament to the club’s overall dedication to win.

Last June, with a record of 43-29, the Diamondbacks rotation consisted of an abundance of struggling pitchers. Southpaw Madison Bumgarner was designated for assignment two months after recording an eye-popping 10.26 ERA in four starts, Pfaadt was demoted to Triple-A Reno after recording a 9.82 ERA in six starts, and Henry and Nelson combined for a 4.98 ERA.

That rotation – Pfaadt, Nelson and Henry – behind Gallen and Kelly, eventually propelled the Snakes to the postseason. Needless to say, Hazen has given Diamondbacks fans plenty to be excited about as the Snakes open their season Thursday against the Colorado Rockies.

Montgomery, a 31-year-old southpaw, is represented by Scott Boras, one of the most powerful agents in baseball. Montgomery was a part of the “Boras Four” – Cody Bellinger (three-years, $80 million), Matt Chapman (three-years, $54 million), Blake Snell (two-years, $62 million) and Montgomery – in which none received the long-term deals they were seeking with their respective clubs.

Earlier this month, while Snell and Montgomery were still available, Boras insisted that teams which were supposedly lacking pitching were starting to “panic.”

“There is a pitching panic going on in baseball,” Boras told SI’s Inside the Rangers. “We’ve got so many starting pitchers who are now compromised – maybe short-term, some long-term. And the calls for elite starters are starting to increase. With many clubs right now, because of the pitching issue, the competitiveness of their seasons is at risk.”

The Diamondbacks underwent their supposed “pitching panic” and solved it. With Opening Day just over 24 hours away, the Snakes encountered a sudden roster shuffle, yet Lovullo insists that the team stays alert. It’s the same mindset that pushed the team into the World Series just five months ago.

“It’s hard to flip that switch, and I’ve talked to these guys about it,” Lovullo said. “You can’t flip switches. You gotta be ready. You gotta practice fast and be as ready as you possibly can for the day after tomorrow.

“This team will be ready to go.”

Aaron Schmidt EH-run shmit
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Aaron Schmidt expects to graduate in spring 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in film and media production. In addition to the Phoenix Sports Bureau, Schmidt reports for The Arizona Republic and The State Press. He has also interned with Arizona’s Family and Arizona Sports 98.7.