What the Rangers and Cardinals Got in the Jordan Montgomery-Chris Stratton Trade

Chris Stratton and Jordan Montgomery

Just one day after the Rangers swung a trade for three-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer, Texas picked up two more pitchers. Left-hander Jordan Montgomery and right-handed reliever Chris Stratton are headed to Texas, in exchange for reliever John King and two Minor Leaguers. Here’s a closer look at the pieces involved in the deal.

Related: What the Blue Jays and Cardinals Got in the Jordan Hicks Trade

The Rangers’ Return

This is the second year that Jordan Montgomery has been dealt at the Trade Deadline. Last year, Montgomery was traded from the Yankees to the Cardinals for Harrison Bader. The deal worked out great for the Cardinals last season, as Montgomery went 6-3 with a tidy 3.11 ERA and 1.8 BB/9 for a St. Louis team that won the NL Central.

While things didn’t go well for the Cardinals this season, Montgomery was a steady hand in the St. Louis rotation.

The 30-year-old effectively changes speed with his sinker/changeup combo. The changeup isn’t a pitch that will receive plus grades on Statcast, but it differs in speed with his fastball by about 10 MPH. It picked up plenty of weak contact in the past, and can be a key weapon against hitters selling out on the fastball.

The other arm headed to Texas is Chris Stratton. The former Mississippi State standout will pound hitters up with a fastball with elite spin, and also works in a slurvish curveball, slider, and change. Stratton’s curveball was very effective last season, but he has just a 14.9% Whiff rate on it in 2023 — far removed from the 27.9% Whiff% rate from a year ago. 

Texas designated reliever Joe Barlow for assignment as a corresponding move. The Rangers also acquired an international bonus pool slot in the deal.

The Cardinals’ Return

  • SP Tekoah Roby (5.05 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 50 K in 46.1 IP (AA))
  • RP John King (5.79 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 10 K over 18.2 IP (MLB))
  • INF Thomas Saggese (.313/.379/.512 slash line, 15 home runs and 40 extra base hits over 93 games (418 PA) (AA))

In addition to two Minor League prospects in Roby and Saggese, the Cardinals also received former Rangers reliever John King. The 28-year-old left-hander throws from a low arm slot, which can make him difficult to pick up. However, things didn’t go well for King in 2023. 

After two decent seasons in 2021-22. King posted a 5.79 ERA with the Rangers in 2023. His numbers have been better in the Minors, as he’s owned a sub-4.00 ERA in Round Rock (AAA) prior to the deal.

St. Louis picked up a starter in Tekoah Roby. The 21-year-old’s numbers in the Minors haven’t been phenomenal, as he owns a career MiLB ERA of 4.47 and a WHIP of 1.23 ERA. He does miss plenty of bats, thanks to an explosive fastball that can ride up on hitters. Additionally, he owns a curveball, slider, and changeup that MLB.com rates as potential above-average offerings.

Opposing batters have hit well off of Roby, and scouting reports have indicated that the righty tends to miss in. But if he can improve his command, Roby could be a highly valuable arm that can slot into the St. Louis rotation.

The other piece in this deal is Thomas Saggese. A fifth-round pick by the Rangers in 2020, Saggesse’s hit well in his pro career. The 21-year-old owns a career slash line of .299/.370/.498 in the Minors, and he hit .313 with 15 home runs in the Texas League prior to the deal.

Saggese possesses very good bat speed and quick hands, tools that should allow him to hit for power as he progresses. Defensively, he’s seen most of his time at second but also a fair amount of play at third.

MLB.com rates Roby as the Cards’ fourth-best prospect, while Saggese comes in at #8.

The Verdict

Montgomery can be looked upon as an upgrade to Martín Pérez, the latter of whom has not been able to replicate his stellar season from 2022.

While both are finesse pitchers that induce ground balls, Montgomery’s better command should be an upgrade for the Rangers. Not to mention, the Rangers also picked up a reliever in Stratton that’s been fairly effective over the last four seasons.

Texas’ been busy in recent weeks, as the Rangers have bolstered their pitching staff with Aroldis Chapman, Max Scherzer, Montgomery, and Stratton. With those four in tow, the Rangers’ brass will need to now hope that the team’s pitching staff can hold off the Astros in the AL West.

As for the Cardinals, St. Louis picked up a reliever with MLB experience, and two prospects with legitimate talent.

Between the additions of Roby, Saggese, as well as former Blue Jays farmhands Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse, the Cardinals’ prospect pool just got significantly deeper.