Yankees right-hander Frankie Montas will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder on Feb. 21, manager Aaron Boone announced (Twitter links via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com and Joel Sherman of the New York Post). The best-case scenario for a return would be late in the 2023 season.
Montas was already known to be behind schedule heading into spring training, thanks to inflammation in his right shoulder that slowed his offseason progression. General manager Brian Cashman said three weeks ago, however, that the damage didn’t appear to be structural in nature. The GM added that more information would be gained once Montas began his throwing program. That was scheduled for late January, and it now seems clear that things didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.
The 29-year-old Montas (30 in March) was acquired from the A’s alongside righty reliever Lou Trivino last summer in a deadline deal sending prospects Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Luis Medina and Cooper Bowman back to Oakland. Things quickly went awry for the typically steady Montas, who yielded six runs in two of his first three appearances with the Yankees and ultimately wound up yielding four or more runs in eight Yankees starts before landing on the injured list.
Prior to coming over from the A’s, Montas had been excellent, pitching to a 3.30 ERA with above-average strikeout and walk rates over 291 2/3 innings dating back to Opening Day 2021. However, there was some concern about his shoulder even before the Yankees made the trade, as Montas left an early-July start after just one inning due to inflammation and didn’t pitch again for 18 days. He totaled eight innings and held his opponents to three runs in two return starts before being dealt to the Bronx.
The Yankees tendered a contract to Montas this offseason and avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $7.5MM for the coming season. He’s slated to become a free agent in the offseason, making the forthcoming surgery an even more sizable blow both to the team and to the player himself. The Yankees won’t get much more than those eight shaky starts out of Montas now, and Montas himself will at best have a few weeks of late-inning work under his belt before heading into free agency for the first time.
With Montas out of the rotation picture and lefty Nestor Cortes dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain that’ll jeopardize his availability for Opening Day, the Yankees’ rotation looks much more top-heavy than it did a few weeks ago. Gerrit Cole and offseason signee Carlos Rodon form a powerhouse one-two punch, and they’ll be followed by Luis Severino, who’ll be looking for his first fully healthy season since 2018.
Right-hander Domingo German is the favorite to step into Montas’ spot in the rotation at the moment, but if Cortes also needs to miss time, the outlook of that fifth spot becomes a bit murkier. Candidates on the 40-man roster include Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez and Matt Krook. It’s at least possible that the Yankees will look outside the organization, but they’ve been unwilling to cross the fourth and final luxury-tax barrier and currently sit less than $1MM shy of that mark, per Roster Resource.