The MLB trade deadline is less than four weeks away (set for Aug. 2 this year) and two trade candidate starting pitchers are dealing with shoulder injuries. On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Reds announced righty Tyler Mahle has been placed on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder strain, and the Oakland Athletics announced righty Frankie Montas will not make his next start due to shoulder inflammation.
Mahle, 27, allowed two runs and walked a season high four batters in five innings in his most recent start. “It was definitely a grind. I wasn’t making pitches the whole time. You like to come out of those games that are not good for you with limited damage,” Mahle told the Associated Press after the game, though he did not indicate he was dealing with a physical issue.
Back in Sept. 2018, Mahle missed roughly three weeks with shoulder inflammation, otherwise his arm has been healthy throughout his career. His 4.48 ERA in 92 1/3 innings is a bit of an eyesore, but Mahle has a solid track record and he’s a stathead favorite thanks to his high spin rates. Mahle is under control through 2023 and has drawn interest from several teams since last year.
As for Montas, the 29-year-old exited his last start after only one inning with a shoulder issue. He will receive a cortisone injection later in the day Wednesday and skip his next start, trainer Nick Paparesta told the San Francisco Chronicle. Montas is listed as day-to-day for the time being and the A’s haven’t said when he will pitch next. He has not been placed on the injured list.
“He had some tightness in the back of his shoulder and just didn’t feel like he could get fully extended,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay told NBC Sports Bay Area following Montas’ last start. “So in that situation, we’re going to err on the side of caution. He was examined. He’s just got some inflammation back there, and we’ll just go day to day from here.”
Montas has been durable in recent years and has not dealt with any arm problems. That said, interested teams — and there are many given how effective Montas has been, plus the fact he is under team control through 2023 — will want to see him healthy and on the mound before the trade deadline. They want to make sure they’re getting the good, healthy version of Montas.
The Athletics (28-55) and Reds (28-52) have baseball’s worst and third-worst records, respectively. Both clubs have aggressively traded away players since the end of last season, the A’s in particular, and Montas and Mahle are arguably their top remaining chips. They can be kept and traded later if they don’t get healthy before the deadline, but as these injuries show, that can be risky.