Did the Braves make the right choice to avoid the market for Jordan Montgomery?

As good as Jordan Montgomery is, it sure seems like the Braves may have once again been playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers this offseason.

World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game Two
World Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers - Game Two / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves entered the offseason with only one really clear need: starting pitcher. As the wheels of free agency and the trade market started turning, the Braves seemingly turned towards two names that they ultimately missed out in Sonny Gray and Aaron Nola. Gray signed with the Cardinals on a deal that the Braves probably should have been at least willing to match and Atlanta's Nola interest felt a lot like they were just keeping Philly honest and making sure they had to pay up to keep him.

Ultimately, the Braves landed on two additions for the rotation with one potentially being temporary. One of the Braves' first moves this offseason was to sign Reynaldo Lopez who will at least be getting starts early in the season and their big move to beef up the rotation was the Chris Sale trade.

All of these moves were made with the understanding that both Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery were going to be priced way outside the Braves' comfort zone. However, with Montgomery signing what amounts to a one year deal with the Diamondbacks, did the Braves make the right choice to sit his market out or could they end up regretting making the choices they did?

Jordan Montgomery is great, but the Braves may have found a better path

Let's get one thing straight: Jordan Montgomery would have made the Braves a better baseball team. The guy basically carried the Rangers to a World Series title last year and has been criminally underrated as a starter for years now. He isn't flashy, but he just puts up quality start after quality start and keeps his teams in games every time he is out there. $25+ million a year is a lot for a guy like that, but it certainly isn't crazy given the current market for starting pitchers.

Instead, the Braves committed $10 million a year for three years to Reynaldo Lopez and then $16 million for 2024 and $22 million for 2025 for Sale. On strictly a per year basis, signing Montgomery instead of adding Lopez and Sale would have been cheaper and Vaughn Grissom would still be in the Braves' organization. However, the calculation isn't that simple.

First, the Braves had no way to really know that Monty would have accepted a short-term deal right before Opening Day and with Boras at the helm of talks, the odds of that being in the cards were pretty low. Second, getting multiple good players for marginally more investment than it would have been for one guy protects against injuries better and gives the Braves lots of options for how to manage their rotation and bullpen throughout the 2024 season.

More importantly, it looks like the Braves definitely picked the right two guys. Reynaldo Lopez being converted into a starter, even if temporarily, has a chance to be a huge steal at $10 million a year given the amount of talent he has. As for Sale, he looks like a new man with the Braves as he is healthy and has been DOMINATING this spring with 23 strikeouts in 14.2 innings of work. Monty could be great, but if Sale looks like his former Cy Young contending self, Atlanta might just end up better off regardless of the financials.

In short, yeah...the Braves probably would have been involved in Montgomery's market if they knew he would take a short-term deal. That contract structure was a big reason why Atlanta was so heavily connected to Sonny Gray early in the offseason. However, the Braves may have found a better route that set their roster early and made their roster deeper than would have been the case if they had brought Montgomery into the fold.

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