Reds make Yankees fans squirm with surprise Opening Day starter proclamation

Reds manager David Bell threw everyone a curveball.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Frankie Montas smiles during fielding drills
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Frankie Montas smiles during fielding drills / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Frankie Montas had a very short tenure with the New York Yankees. The right-hander was dealt to the Bronx at the trade deadline in 2022, but only started eight games and posted a 6.35 ERA in just less than 40 innings of work.

With that as a backdrop, Yankees fans will be shocked to hear that Montas will be the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starter when the Washington Nationals visit Great American Ball Park later this month.

David Bell made the announcement following Sunday's Cactus League victory over the Cleveland Guardians. Montas was the Oakland A's Opening Day starter in 2020 and 2022.

Reds make Yankees fans squirm with surprise Opening Day starter proclamation

Reds fans were probably a bit surprised that Montas got the nod over Hunter Greene. Bell said that Greene will likely get the ball for Cincinnati's second game of the season on March 30th.

With the former Yankees hurler getting the ball for the first game of the season, this will mark the ninth straight season that the Reds have sent a different starting pitcher to the hill for Opening Day. The last pitcher to appear as the Reds Opening Day starter in back-to-back seasons was Johnny Cueto (2015).

Montas was one of several free agent acquisitions Cincinnati signed this offseason. The right-hander agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract with a $20 million mutual-option for the 2025 season. It remains to be seen whether or not Nick Martinez, who also signed a free agent this winter, will be part of the Reds starting rotation or begin the season in the bullpen.

The Yankees were interested in another Reds pitcher at the 2022 trade deadline

After the Reds traded away Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker before the start of the 2022, trade speculation increased surrounding Luis Castillo. The Yankees were widely thought to be the frontrunner for Castillo's services, but the All-Star was ultimately dealt to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a prospect-laden package that included Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo.

The Yankees hesitancy to include certain players like Jasson Dominguez and Anthony Volpe likely led to Cincinnati choosing Seattle over New York. The Yankees then shifted their focus to Montas. The A's received Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, JP Sears, and Cooper Bowman in exchange for Montas and reliever Lou Trevino.

After Montas' unimpressive close to the 2022 season, it was announced that shoulder inflammation would force the right-hander to begin his 2023 campaign on the injured list. That then turned into arthroscopic surgery which allowed Montas to appear in just one game for the Yankees last season before entering free agency.

The Reds go on the road to the Bronx during the Fourth of July holiday. If Montas is on the mound for Cincinnati during that series, it's doubtful the Yankees fans will give him a warm welcome.