Truly nobody could have seen the epic collapse of the St. Louis Cardinals coming. Top to bottom, this is one of the more heavily-reinforced teams in the league, but things just have not fallen into place for them in the 2023 season. At 38-52, the club is comfortably in last place in the NL Central and is 11.5 GB of first place in the division.
This immense amount of underperformance has led many to believe that a sell-off is coming at the deadline. As of yesterday, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak himself told reporters that "we are going to trade people."
Rumor season is officially upon us, as we have our very first instance "X team linked to X player" of the 2023 season. Per Cardinals beat writer Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat, Cardinals starter Jordan Montgomery, a pending free agent, is beginning to grab the attention of a few clubs around this year's trade deadline (H/T to our friends at Blue Jays Today).
One of the teams considering making a run at him? None other than the Toronto Blue Jays.
Blue Jays rumors: Jordan Montgomery of the St. Louis Cardinals is one to watch at the deadline
That Montgomery is going to be available at the deadline is hardly a surprise. Just a few days ago, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that (subscription required) Montgomery and fellow starter Jack Flaherty are "good as gone". At the moment, Montgomery is nursing a right hamstring injury, so his health status is going to be closely monitored by any teams eyeing his services at the deadline. The hope is that the All-Star break will give him enough time to fully recover and that he will be good to go by the time his next start rolls around.
The fit on the Blue Jays is very easy to see for a pitcher of Montgomery's stature. With Alek Manoah representing a gigantic question mark and Hyun Jin Ryu's seamless recovery another area of uncertainty, there's a wide open spot in the current starting rotation. Gausman, Bassitt, Berríos and Kikuchi form one of the top one-through-fours in the league, but adding a proven starter who is not only a left-hander but has been pitching very well for the past few years would be a massive move for a Jays club eyeing contention.
Since joining the Cardinals at last year's trade deadline, the 30-year-old southpaw has made a total of 29 starts, right around one full year of appearances. In that time, he is 12-10 with a 3.19 ERA, 3.35 FIP and 130 ERA+. He is a huge groundball pitcher who does an excellent job at keeping runners off the bases and runs off the board. The seven-year veteran is one of the craftier arms that could be available at this year's deadline and would be an excellent fit on the Blue Jays' roster.
What makes Montgomery even more attractive is the fact that he won't necessarily cost much in a trade. While he has been pitching well, he is on an expiring contract and could cost the Blue Jays nothing more than a player like Yosver Zulueta in a deal. Moving Zulueta would be a necessary risk, as he has been struggling a bit with command this year but still has quite a bit of stock as a prospect who can reach triple digits on an explosive fastball.