KANSAS CITY -- The wild journey of left-hander Mike Montgomery, whom the Royals drafted 36th overall in 2008, is bringing him back home.
The Royals on Monday traded catcher Martín Maldonado to the Cubs straight up for Montgomery, who was part of one of the biggest trades in Royals franchise history back in December of 2012. That winter, the Royals sent outfielder Wil Myers, Montgomery, right-hander Jake Odorizzi and infielder Patrick Leonard to Tampa Bay for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, and infielder Eliot Johnson.
That 2012 deal is generally regarded as the turning point in the resurgence of the Royals, who regained prominence and went to two straight World Series in 2014 and 2015, winning it all in 2015.
Now, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Montgomery, 30, will immediately go into the rotation and start on Friday. Double-A Northwest Arkansas catcher Meibrys Viloria will replace Maldonado on the 25-man roster.
“We started talking about this deal a couple days ago,” Moore said. “[Montgomery] wants to start, and we can give him that opportunity. This was an opportunity to get him back to our organization. The money is pretty much a swap. But we’ll have two years of club control [after this year]. It’s just a good baseball deal.”
Maldonado is owed less than half of $2.5 million. Montgomery is owed less than half of $2.44 million.
Tampa Bay traded Montgomery to the Mariners in 2015, and the Mariners then dealt him to the Cubs in 2016. He made 11 appearances during the postseason that year, going 1-1 with a save and a 3.14 ERA. He also recorded the final out of Game 7 in the 2016 World Series as the Cubs won their first world championship in 108 years.
“He does [have a history with the Royals],” Moore said of Montgomery. “He’s had a successful period of time with the Cubs. Pitched in some very important roles with the Cubs, including that final out in 2016.”
The next season, Montgomery set career highs in wins (seven), saves (three), innings (130 2/3) and strikeouts (100) while posting a 3.38 ERA.
This season, Montgomery is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief outings.
Moore said Montgomery has dealt with a couple of injuries in 2019, from a latissimus strain to a finger sprain.
“He didn’t get out of the gate good,” Moore said, “but he is fine health-wise.”
A spot in the rotation opened up for the Royals on Sunday when they traded Homer Bailey to the A’s.
“The good thing about where we are is that we can give him an opportunity to stretch him for now and in the future,” Moore said.
Maldonado, who hit .227 with six home runs and 17 RBIs for the Royals, was signed during Spring Training after the Royals learned that All-Star and Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez would miss the season because of Tommy John surgery.
Moore was thoroughly impressed with Maldonado’s professionalism.
“We’re going to miss him,” Moore said, “and he’s a guy we wouldn’t close the door on returning sometime. We think that much of him.”