Why Frankie Montas' contract with the Reds is less risky than Nick Martinez's deal

Both Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez could be with the Reds beyond the 2024 season.
New York Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas
New York Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Frankie Montas is officially a member of the Cincinnati Reds. The team announced today that Montas has a agreed to a one-year/$14-million contract with the Reds that includes a mutual-option for 2025 and a $2-million buyout.

The Reds are hopeful that Montas returns to the pitcher he was back in 2021. The right-hander went 13-9 that year with the Oakland Athletics and posted a 3.37 ERA in 32 starts. This past season, however, Montas suffered a shoulder injury prior to Opening Day and appeared in just one game for the New York Yankees before entering free agency.

Nick Martinez signed a similar, yet different, deal this with the Reds. Though Montas' signing comes with some measure of risk due to his injury history, the contract itself is much more team-friendly that the deal that Martinez earlier this offseason.

Frankie Montas' contract with the Reds is less risky than Nick Martinez's deal

Frankie Montas' new contract will effectively cost the Cincinnati Reds at least $16 million. The Redlegs will pay Montas $14 million for his services in 2024 and there's a $20-million mutual-option for 2025 with a $2-million buyout.

Nick Martinez's signed a two-year/$26-million contract with Cincinnati earlier this offseason, but the right-hander's contract contains an opt out after the upcoming season. According to Spotrac, Martinez's contract is worth $14 million in 2024 and another $12 million in 2025.

There is risk in signing both Montas and Martinez, but the Reds gave themselves an out with the former. If Montas underperforms in 2024, Cincinnati can decline the mutual-option, pay the 30-year-old $2 million, and not carry over his $20-million salary into 2025

However, if Montas regains his pre-injury form, Cincinnati could pick up their end of the option and hope that the former A's starter does the same. At worst, the Reds could attach a Qualifying Offer to Montas and ensure themselves some level of draft compensation.

The same cannot be said for Nick Martinez. If the former San Diego Padres hurler doesn't meet expectations in 2024, he can simply remain with the ball club heading into the following season. Cincinnati would then be on the hook for his $12-million salary.

Martinez, if he proves unable to hold down some semblance of a role in the starting rotation, becomes a very expensive reliever. There aren't many relievers, who aren't closers, taking home eight figures per season.

While some may disagree, seeing both pitchers enter free agency next season would be the best case scenario. Why? Because if Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez play well enough to re-enter the free agent market next winter, the Cincinnati Reds would've likely posted a winning record and participated in the MLB Postseason.