By Bruce Levine–
ORLANDO, Fla. (670 The Score) — Busy adding pitching during the Winter Meetings, the Cubs were surprised to learn through the grapevine that left-hander Mike Montgomery was demanding a rotation spot for the 2018 season.
Montgomery either wants to start or be traded to a team where he can join the rotation, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted Tuesday evening, citing sources close to Montgomery. That was news to the Cubs.
“As far as dialogue this winter, we’ve had no dialogue with Mike whatsoever,” general manager Jed Hoyer said after hearing the report. “We view him as a starting pitcher. We know he can do it. But that said, our job is to build up as much depth as possible.”
Mike Montgomery has served as a valuable and versatile swingman for the Cubs since they acquired him in July 2016. He appeared in 44 games in 2017, making 14 starts. He was 7-8 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
Since joining the Cubs, Montgomery has a 3.86 ERA in 21 starts. He recorded the save in Game 7 of the World Series in 2016 as the Cubs broke their long championship drought.
In October, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was asked about Montgomery’s role moving forward. He said then that the club valued Montgomery as a swingman who’s really important in that position.
Montgomery has watched as the Cubs signed right-hander Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal last week to fill a back-of-the-rotation spot. On Tuesday evening, they inked left-hander Drew Smyly to a two-year deal. He’s expected to miss most, if not all, of 2018 as he rehabs after Tommy John surgery but then projects to fill a rotation spot in 2019.
Hoyer was slightly irritated by the news of the trade demand aspect. The Cubs already knew Montgomery prefers to start.
“There hasn’t been any dialogue that should have spurred a report like that,” Hoyer said. “You just don’t know where that comes from. But sometimes that happens. Mike is a great teammate. Obviously, we know he wants to start. I think our guys have been really good at doing what’s good for the team and the greater good.”
Montgomery is under team contract control for four more years.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.