Cora confirms Sox recently met with Jordan Montgomery

The longer the 31-year-old lefty remains on the market, perhaps the better chance Boston has of finding common ground with a starting pitcher who would fit perfectly at the top of the team’s rotation.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed a Monday report on X from ESPN’s Buster Olney that the club “recently” held a Zoom call with Montgomery.

But Cora said that meeting took place roughly two weeks ago, right before Spring Training.

“He’s right, Buster’s right,” Cora said. “We Zoomed with [Montgomery], but we’ve been Zooming with a lot of people throughout the offseason. I’m not going to get into specifics but, yeah, it’s part of the process and it was a while ago, too.”

Does Cora believe the Sox will add another starter before Opening Day?

“I think we’re working. We’re working hard towards that. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” Cora said. “But we’ve been working hard the whole offseason. It’s not a lack of trying. There have been a lot of meetings, a lot of conversations. Obviously, [chief baseball officer] Craig [Breslow] has had a lot of conversations with agents.

“We’re still engaged with position players, with pitchers. We’re trying to improve. If there’s an opportunity to do that, I bet we’ll jump on it.”

In mid-January, Breslow did several interviews in which he was transparent about the Red Sox prioritizing their young core of players and prospects heading into the ’24 season.

Later in the month, club president/CEO Sam Kennedy acknowledged that the team’s payroll would “likely” be lower than last season’s Competitive Balance Tax payroll of $225.7 million. Boston’s current payroll is believed to be a shade above $200 million, which indicates the club has flexibility to add. Rumors have persisted that closer Kenley Jansen — who is owed $16 million this season — could be traded to free up payroll to fill another team need.

In this last week of February, several prominent players remain on the free-agent market. Montgomery and another right-handed bat are believed to be the key areas of focus for the Red Sox.

Montgomery was a key reason the Rangers won last year’s World Series. In the American League Championship Series, he stifled the Astros in his three games (two starts), going 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA.

Due to lefty Blake Snell receiving a qualifying offer (which would require a second-round pick in the Draft as compensation), Boston is unlikely to pursue him.

While sitting in on the team’s radio broadcast for part of Sunday’s 8-6 win over the Twins at JetBlue Park, Breslow continued to leave open the possibility that more additions could be coming to the roster before the season starts.

Specifically, Breslow was asked whether the market could change from where it was earlier in the offseason following Cody Bellinger reportedly re-signing with the Cubs for three years at $80 million.

“I think a lot has been made of the constraints we are or aren’t working under,” Breslow said. “We’ll obviously continue to look at every opportunity that is out there to improve the team, while ensuring that we prioritize the long-term outlook alongside the shorter-term outlook. I don’t know is the short answer, but it would be irresponsible not to find out [if the market is changing].”

“I think we have to operate in a way that we’re not sacrificing future value given where we are. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking to improve the team. I think the moves we’ve made thus far indicate that. We’ve been in a position to trade some of the guys on expiring contracts, and bring in value that we think is going to impact our club in 2024 and beyond.”

“They need to make an adjustment to help us players to be in a better position to win,” Devers said. “Everybody in this organization wants to win, and we as players want to win, and I think they need to make an adjustment to help us win.

“Everybody knows what we need,” said Devers. “You know what we need, and they know what we need. … Everybody who knows the organization or knows the game knows what we need.”

That need Devers was referring to, quite obviously, is starting pitching. In particular, the Red Sox don’t have a clear ace.

But that could change if the Sox are able to add Montgomery.

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