A year ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers edged out the division-rival San Diego Padres to acquire future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer in a July trade with the Washington Nationals. All Scherzer would do as a Dodger was go 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA, ultimately finishing third in National League Cy Young Award voting.
This time around, there isn't a three-time Cy Young Award winner that could be traded to a contending team. But in advance of the Aug. 2 MLB Trade deadline, expect to hear quite a bit of chatter about Oakland Athletics righty Frankie Montas.
A year after finishing sixth in American League Cy Young Award voting, Montas is putting together another excellent campaign, despite a 3-7 record that may lead you to believe otherwise. Across 81 2/3 innings in 2022, Montas has a 3.53 ERA, 3.27 FIP and 1.7 fWAR.
When you factor in that Montas can't become a free agent until after the 2023 season, you start to understand why the 29-year-old may be the most coveted arm this summer.
Here's a look at five potential landing spots for Montas:
Boston Red Sox
After going just 9-13 in April, the Red Sox seemed like they could be a potential seller in advance of the trade deadline. However, they now sit at 38-31, in a tie with the Minnesota Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot. Both Garrett Whitlock and Nathan Eovaldi are currently on the injured list. Eovaldi -- who finished fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting last year -- has a 4.54 FIP in 2022, and can become a free agent after this season. Not only would Montas help improve the chances that the Red Sox have of making a postseason run in 2022, but he would be insurance for 2023 if Chaim Bloom and Boston don't ultimately re-sign the oft-injured Eovaldi.
The defending World Series Champions posted losing records in April and May, but a 16-3 start to June has them in third Wild Card position, and within striking distance of the top of both the NL Wild Card race and the NL East. 38-year-old Charlie Morton has a 5.08 ERA and 4.24 FIP in 2022, and his $15 million salary will come off the books after this season. Adding Montas would give the Braves another arm to pair with Max Fried and Kyle Wright at the top of their rotation for at least a year and a half.
Toronto Blue Jays
Despite playing in the most crowded division in baseball, the Blue Jays are 38-30, currently at the top of the AL Wild Card race. Kevin Gausman is the favorite for the AL Cy Young Award, and Alek Manoah has come of age so far in 2022. Still, Hyun-jin Ryu had season-ending Tommy John Surgery, and both Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi have underperformed this season. If the Blue Jays want to hold onto their playoff spot and have a chance to do damage in October, they need to add another front-line starter like Montas.
New York Mets
Steve Cohen and Billy Eppler have turned the A's into a farm system of sorts, already poaching former Oakland stars Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Chris Bassitt. What's another one? It's fair for the Mets to hope that Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Tylor Megill all return from injuries and remain healthy for the rest of the season. The reality is that if they want to avoid a second-half collapse like they did last year, the Mets would be better off potentially ending up with too much good starting pitching than not enough, should any of Scherzer, deGrom or Megill have further setbacks.
Per Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Twins and A's did discuss potential trade packages for both Montas and Sean Manaea back in March. While Manaea ended up being dealt to the San Diego Padres, Montas could be a target that Thad Levine and the Twins circle back to. At 38-31, the Twins are tied with the Red Sox for the second AL Wild Card spot, while trailing the Cleveland Guardians by just percentage points in the AL Central. As much as anyone on this list, the Twins need to improve their rotation, and Montas would pair well with another former Athletic, Sonny Gray.