Czerwonka: Remaining MLB free agents; what’s taking so long?

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MLB free agency graphic. - Drew Peltzman / Multimedia Editor

It’s March and the weather is finally starting to warm up, which means a brand new MLB season is right around the corner. With that being said, two of the top free-agent pitchers remain available in the market, that being 31-year-olds Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. 

Snell put up stellar numbers last season with the Padres. In 2023, he won the NL Cy Young award and posted a 2.25 ERA, which was the lowest in the entire league. Snell also had the most strikeouts in his career (234) and finished third in the league in that category, only behind Spencer Strider and Kevin Gausman. Snell is also coming off the second-most innings pitched (180 innings) in his eight-year career.

Although Montgomery didn’t put up the same gaudy numbers as Snell did, he still had a solid season. He started the season with the Cardinals and eventually got traded to the Texas Rangers. In the regular season, he put up a combined 3.20 ERA between the two teams in 188.2 total innings, the most in his career so far. Following the trade to Texas, Montgomery had an ERA of 2.79 in 11 starts. The Rangers would go on to win their first World Series, and Montgomery played an important role in their postseason run. In six playoff starts, the South Carolina native collected a 2.90 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

But all of this begs the question: What has been taking so long? 

It’s not a clear-cut answer, however, these two pitchers do have something in common. They are both Scott Boras’ clients, and Boras is mostly in control of many of the top players in MLB. For example, a handful of Boras’ clients are Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Corey Seager, and many more. He even has four other clients who play for the Phillies: Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm, and Taijuan Walker. 

It’s clear that Boras is very much capable of playing the waiting game. Boras will get contracts for his clients, even if he has to wait and drag free agency all the way into spring training. All it takes is a desperate GM to meet his price, or the player just wants to sign and join a team. 

Two of Boras’ other top clients this offseason also remained without a team for a good portion of the winter. One was Matt Chapman and the other was Cody Bellinger, who revived his career in 2023. Neither of them signed a long-term deal; they both inked three-year contracts, as Bellinger resigned with the Cubs, and Chapman signed with the San Francisco Giants. 

Back to Snell and Montgomery, there remain teams who are interested in the two pitchers. A few clubs have already had interest in Snell, such as the Giants, Yankees, and Mariners, but a new team has emerged as a main front-runner for Snell. That team is the Phillies, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. But if the Phillies were to sign him, just like all of Boras’ other clients this offseason, it would probably be on a short-term deal. 

As for Montgomery, he’s been linked to the Red Sox for some time now but still has plenty of other teams that are reaching out. However, it would make more sense if Montgomery went to more of a contender, which as it stands, the Red Sox aren’t much of a contender right now. 

With that being said, the regular season is right around the corner, and it would make sense for these two pitchers to sign sooner rather than later. 

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