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June 17, 2024
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AL East Notes: Yankees, Montgomery, Red Sox, Clevinger, Shenton

AL East Notes: Yankees, Montgomery, Red Sox, Clevinger, Shenton

Prior to the southpaw signing with the Diamondbacks last night on a one-year deal that guarantees him $25MM, the Yankees were among the teams most frequently connected to Jordan Montgomery this winter as the 31-year-old’s former club scouted out potential rotation upgrades in free agency. Reporting connected the sides throughout the offseason and while initial reports indicated that New York was more focused on Blake Snell and Montgomery preferred a return to the Rangers, the sides seemingly reopened negotiations on a hypothetical reunion last week. Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post, however, the sides never got particularly close to a deal before the southpaw landed in Arizona.

Heyman writes that the Yankees remained in talks with Montgomery’s agent, Scott Boras, in the days leading up to his deal with the Diamondbacks but that the fourth tier of the luxury tax, which levies a 110% tax rate on spending beyond $297MM, proved to be a major obstacle in negotiations between the sides. While the Yankees suggested a four-year deal to the southpaw’s camp (which Heyman indicates may not have reached the “offer” stage of negotiations), the hypothetical pact would have guaranteed Montgomery just $72MM with heavy deferrals that Heyman indicates would have taken the deal’s net-present value to just $46MM.

That $11.5MM AAV clocks in at less than half of the $25MM Montgomery will earn in 2024, and the total guarantee over four seasons is less than the $47.5MM Montgomery would be able to earn over two seasons provided he makes at least 18 starts in 2024. While Montgomery was rumored to be searching for a long-term deal even as the calendar flipped to March, it would have been a shock if the left-hander hadn’t been able to beat the club’s offer elsewhere on the free agent market. With Montgomery now off the table, the Yankees figure to enter the regular season with a starting rotation of Nestor Cortes , Carlos Rodon , Marcus Stroman , Clarke Schmidt , and Luis Gil while ace right-hander Gerrit Cole nurses inflammation in his elbow.

More from around the AL East…

The Red Sox were also frequently tied to Montgomery as a potential suitor this winter, and were a frequently speculated destination for a number of starters in all tiers of free agency. Despite that wide-ranging reported interest, however, the club only came away with right-hander Lucas Giolito this winter. In the wake of Giolito undergoing an internal brace procedure on his UCL this spring the club also added righty Chase Anderson on a big league deal, though it appears they aren’t exploring further additions to their rotation mix at this point. WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported yesterday that the club has not made an offer to the lone remaining free agent starter of note, right-hander Mike Clevinger , who pitched to a 3.77 ERA in 24 starts with the White Sox last year. The club’s internal options of Brayan Bello , Tanner Houck , Nick Pivetta , Kutter Crawford , and Garrett Whitlock will need to take a major step forward this season in order to improve upon the 4.68 ERA last year’s rotation mix posted despite losing veteran lefties Chris Sale and James Paxton .
The Rays have struggled with injuries to their positional corps this spring, and key pieces such as Josh Lowe , Taylor Walls , and Jonathan Aranda are all slated to open the season on the injured list. Those injuries have created an opportunity for one player, however, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times noted this evening that infielder Austin Shenton is slated to make the Rays’ Opening Day roster as the final piece of the club’s bench mix. Shenton, 26, has never appeared in the majors before and struggled to a .195/.214/.244 line in 15 games this spring but excelled at the plate in the minors last year, raking to the tune of a .304/.423/.584 slash line in 134 games split between the Double- and Triple-A levels. Shenton has experience at first, second, and third base as well as both outfield corners and figures to act as a left-handed complement to the likes of Harold Ramirez , Amed Rosario , and Curtis Mead in the club’s positional mix to open the season.

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