Did the Reds' pick the right injury-prone pitcher in Frankie Montas?

Newly-signed Reds pitcher Frankie Montas missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
New York Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas
New York Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Did the Cincinnati Reds pick the right injury-prone pitcher? That's a peculiar question, to be sure, but there's certainly merit to it. Last week, the Reds agreed to terms with Frankie Montas, but some fans are worried that his recent injury history could be an issue.

It's a fair point. Outside of one start near the end of last season in which Montas pitched in just over one inning, the right-hander missed the entire 2023 campaign with a shoulder injury. While Montas claims he's fully healthy, and the team's medical evaluation would seem to agree, Reds Country is still skeptical.

Though Montas was ultimately the pitcher that Cincinnati chose to sign this offseason, he wasn't the only starter with a injury-riddled past who was on their radar. Before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tyler Glasnow was said to have piqued the Reds' interest. Cincinnati was also rumored to be involved in trade talks surrounding Shane Bieber.

Did the Reds' pick the right injury-prone pitcher?

If there's one positive when it comes to Montas it's the fact that Cincinnati gave up zero assets in order to get him. Montas was a free agent, while both Glasnow and Bieber would've required the Reds to part with some of their prospects.

It's not yet known what the return will be for Bieber, as he's still on the Cleveland Guardians roster, but a former Cy Young Award winner isn't going to come cheap. The Dodgers gave up a pair of talented prospects in exchange for Glasnow and Manuel Margot.

There's also the contract-side of things. Montas signed a $14-million contract with a $2-million buyout. Glasnow is owed $25 million in 2024, but the Dodgers also extended the right-hander's deal despite the fact he's never pitched over 120 innings in a single season. Bieber is in the final year of arbitration and will be a free agent heading into next winter.

Frankie Montas, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Bieber all come with injury concerns.

In terms of accolades, Bieber wins that hands-down. The right-hander won the AL Cy Young Award in 2020 and has placed among the Top 10 two other times. Bieber is also a two-time All-Star and has thrown over 200 innings in a season twice during his career.

However, when it comes to pure stuff, Glasnow may have the edge over both Montas and Bieber. According to Baseball Savant, the right-hander was among the best in the baseball in terms of strikeout-rate, whiff-rate, velocity, and ground ball-rate.

While it's a fair question to ask, the reality is that fans won't know the answer until the 2024 season unfolds. Montas, Glasnow, and Bieber, when healthy, are all frontline starters. But the injury concerns are legitimate and could greatly effect each pitcher's productivity in 2024.

The Reds are hoping that they made the right choice taking Montas over the other two. It's often been said that there's not such thing as a bad one-year deal, but injuries force Montas to the IL, that old adage may not carry much weight for the Cincinnati faithful.