Could SF Giants target veteran pitcher from a surprise team?

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

The SF Giants faced off against left-handed hurler Jordan Montgomery of the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. They swept the Cardinals in surprising fashion, solidifying St. Louis' hold of last place in a weak NL Central. Montgomery's time with the Cardinals could be coming to a close if they decide to sell and San Francisco would be a solid landing spot.

Could SF Giants target veteran pitcher from a surprise team?

It is only midway through June, so it is tough to determine who will be buyers and who will be sellers. The Chicago Cubs (32-37) and the Chicago White Sox (30-40) look like obvious sellers at this stage in the season.

Of course, Marcus Stroman of the Cubs could be an appealing trade candidate, whereas Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease of the White Sox will be on the block. For what it is worth, the White Sox appear motivated to focus on selling rental players, so Giolito remains on options but they may make Cease unavailable.

On the other hand, Stroman has a $21 million player option that he will likely decline in favor of entering free agency for another payday. While he would be an excellent fit for the Giants at the deadline, the player option adds a layer of complexity in any trade talks.

At the end of the day, the Cubs may be motivated to move Stroman at the deadline to receive some asset value in return given that he has already previously accepted a qualifying offer. This means that the Cubs would not receive any compensatory picks if he walks in free agency.

This brings us to Montgomery, who is a free agent for the first time in his career at the end of this season. The 30-year-old pitcher faced off against San Francisco earlier this week, allowing three earned runs in 6.1 frames.

Montgomery has been a solid, mid-rotation arm in recent seasons and has continued that trend in 2023. The lefty has registered a 3.91 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, and a 3.48 SO/W ratio in 14 starts for the Cardinals. This includes a 45.0 percent ground ball rate, which is a tad above the league average of 42.5 percent.

His career numbers include a 3.85 ERA, 8.5 K/9, and a 3.40 SO/W rate, so his 2023 stats are in line with what to expect. He does a lot of things the Giants like in a pitcher in that his attacks the zone, limits walks, keeps the ball on the ground, and avoids the long ball at a respectable rate.

Outside of Stroman and Sonny Gray, it would not be surprising to see the Giants be connected to Montgomery at some point next offseason. The seven-year veteran is a reliable option and his projected cost in free agency could be something that fits the front office's risk appetite. Plus, he may not be a candidate for a qualifying offer.

There are a lot of things to like with the lefty, but one question that remains is whether the Cardinals will sell? St. Louis has been in the playoff picture for the better part of the last 25 years, so it is odd to see them sitting in last place in the NL Central. Similar to the Giants, the Cardinals just may not be the type of team that sells. I could see that being the case, but if they do, a rental like Montgomery would be one of the first to go.

Between now and the trade deadline, the Cardinals have to determine if they have a chance at the playoffs. They only sit 8.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, which is not insurmountable. That said, the starting rotation likely is not strong enough to get them heading in the right direction.

Still, with a roster consisting of stars like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, selling just might not be in the cards. Starting pitching is the most obvious need for the Giants if they remain in the playoff hunt and Montgomery may not be a top-line starter, but it feels like he is the type of arm who would excel with the Giants' coaching staff.