Brian Cashman is not happy with the Frankie Montas trade

Of all the big trades the A’s have executed over the past calendar year, none are looking better than the Frankie Montas deadline deal they pulled with the New York Yankees. There’s still time to see how all the trades shake out, but so far Oakland hasn’t got much to show for dismantling its core of quality players in their respective primes. 

It’s been almost a year since the A’s traded away Chris Bassitt, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Sean Manaea. In that time, the biggest impact players from those deals are promising catcher Shea Langeliers and right-hander Adam Oller, who posted 6.30 ERA last year and has to be viewed as a long-shot to make the rotation this spring. None of the other acquired prospects are tearing up the minors, and in many cases, put up some ugly numbers last season.

Zach Logue, a left-hander from the Chapman trade with Toronto, was already designated for assignment. Kevin Smith couldn’t stay in the big leagues at third base last year. Cristian Pache, a centerpiece of the Olson swap, could be on the way out of the organization since he’s out of options this spring. We’ll have to see if intriguing right-hander Adrian Martinez pans out after the A’s acquired him from the Padres in the Manaea trade.

In 2023, the Sean Murphy and Cole Irvin trades are still fresh, but they look like a mixed bag for now.

Kyle Muller, the top Braves prospect acquired in the Murphy deal, is already drawing “Mulder-Bumgarner” comparisons from manager Mark Kotsay in camp with his 6-foot-7, 250-pound frame. Esteury Ruiz, also part of the Murphy trade, is an intriguing stolen base machine that could run his way onto the roster and perhaps force Pache out of the organization. But there’s always hype for the new guys.

Darell Hernaiz checks in at No. 18 on the A’s prospect list and he’s still a couple years out from the bigs at best. That’s not a great haul for a decent, cheap starter like Irvin.

Again, more time needs to pass to truly judge these trades, but it’s not a great look for the Oakland front office so far.

As for the Frankie trade – which also sent reliever Lou Trivino to the Bronx?

It netted the A’s two southpaws who look like they could log major innings in 2023. Ken Waldichuk, an alum of nearby St. Mary’s College, looks like a workhorse (6-4, 220) and has the electric stuff to be a front-end of the rotation guy. JP Sears is generously listed at 5-11, 180, so he’s not imposing on the mound like Waldichuk or Muller, but he gets results.

After making his debut September 1, Waldichuk saved his most impressive start of the year for the A’s season finale, as he outdueled Angels living legend Shohei Ohtani. An outing after striking out a career-high eight batters, Waldichuk tossed a career-high seven scoreless innings, striking out four while walking one and allowing three hits.

“That last game, I didn’t really have my best stuff actually,” Waldichuk told Chris Townsend on A’s Cast Wednesday. “I felt like everything wasn’t playing as well as it did the start before, but I think it was a great learning experience to work with what I had that day. It was a good step for my growth as a pitcher.”


Waldichuk mostly labored through his seven big league starts, posting a 4.93 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.21 WHIP and giving up five homers in 34.1 innings. He can strike guys out, though, as he racked up 33 Ks compared to 10 walks. The potential is there, for sure. He’ll enter the season as Oakland’s No. 2-ranked prospect behind Tyler Soderstrom, but Waldichuk hopes he won’t have to go back to the minor leagues ever again. 

Waldichuk pumps his 94 mph four-seam fastball and builds off the pitch, but said he’s working on throwing his slider and oft-used curveball a little bit harder this spring.

“The biggest goal is just to stay healthy and stick to what I’ve been doing,” Waldichuk said. “I think I’ve made a lot of good adjustments this offseason to address a lot of deficiencies that I had in my last shorter stint. I feel fresh and ready to go.”

Sears was pretty much feast or famine in Oakland, as he could look like a sharp navigator on the mound, but also had three starts when he gave up at least five earned runs. But a 3.86 ERA and 4.21 FIP across 70 rookie innings ain’t bad. Sears is in the muddled rotation competition, but I think he’ll settle in as a middle reliever or longman this season who can make spot starts when needed.

Unfortunately, Montas will be sidelined for a few months after undergoing labrum surgery Tuesday. The lovable former A’s fan favorite didn’t need to repair his rotator cuff, which would have wiped out his whole season. The Yankees are hopeful he could return in the second half, but it’s been a rough go for Frankie in the Bronx.

When he was healthy, Montas got battered around the ballpark en route to a 6.35 ERA in eight starts in pinstripes. Entering his final year of arbitration, Montas will likely be a free agent next winter.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was very frank with reporters when discussing the trade on Feb. 15 in Tampa, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

“We haven’t gotten access to the pitcher that we know what he is capable of when he is right,” Cashman said. “Clearly it hasn’t worked out at all. You know we didn’t really get anything out of it. I’m not looking for a headline of I regret the trade and then they run Montas down. This is part of doing business when you’re dealing with pitchers and there’s no guarantees and he came over with a clean bill of health. And obviously he wasn’t healthy, so the trade goes into a bad category. We gave up assets and we didn’t get anything for it. That’s also part of the business. I’ve traded players that have gone on and gotten hurt elsewhere and I’ve acquired players who [have gotten hurt]. You just don’t want to be a part of it, but it happens.”

It’s worth noting that Cashman isn’t happy with Montas’ “clean bill of health” as the the A’s traded him though he dealt with shoulder inflammation in July. It makes me think of the Gary Payton II Warriors-Blazers trade in the NBA, but Montas passed his physical with the Yankees, unlike Payton with the Warriors.

I really thought Frankie would thrive in the Bronx and help them in the postseason last year but he gave up a dinger in his lone playoff appearance as a reliever. It’s too bad to see any player get surgery, but especially a fun-loving guy like Frankie. But, hey, maybe he’ll find his way back to Oakland on a cheap deal next offseason.

The other two prospects included in the trade were fireballing righty Luis Medina and third baseman Cooper Bowman, who don’t look too promising. Medina possesses a fastball that can hit triple digits, but he posted a heinous 12.19 ERA in Double-A Midland last year. Bowman hit .215 at the High-A level.

If Waldichuk and Sears can blossom into perennial contributors for the A’s, that has to be viewed as a ‘W’ for Oakland. Especially if Waldichuk can become an ace in the coming seasons. Hell, it could even be in 2023.

If Paul Blackburn and James Kaprielian are healthy and putting up decent numbers in July, there’s no reason to think the veterans won’t be dealt by the deadline.

Check back in 2024 for an update on how those Blackburn and Kaprielian trades panned out.