CHICAGO -- The Cubs added what they hope will be a key piece to the bullpen on Wednesday, acquiring left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery from the Mariners for Minor League prospects Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn.
Montgomery was 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA in 32 games (two starts) with the Mariners this season. Left-handed hitters were batting .164 against him. The Cubs also get Minor League right-handed pitcher Jordan Pries in the deal.
"We've been looking hard to improve the 'pen if we could, especially looking for a left-handed pitcher," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "Montgomery has really good stuff and has been performing well this year. We think he's coming into his own a little bit. We're really pleased to get him in what we think is a fair deal. He's someone who can help us now and long into the future."
Epstein said they feel Montgomery isn't fully established in the big leagues yet, and "may be the type of guy who, a year from now, you couldn't get in a deal this size.
"If we hit on this deal and Montgomery becomes someone who can help us now as we head down the stretch and help us later, we'll be very happy with this transaction."
Vogelbach, 23 and ranked 20th among MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Cubs prospects, was hitting .318 in 89 games at Triple-A Iowa with 16 home runs, 18 doubles and 64 RBIs. He was a second-round Draft pick in 2011 and played first base, but he appears to be best suited as a designated hitter. Blackburn, 22, was a first-round selection in 2012 (56th overall), and was 6-4 with a 3.17 ERA in 18 starts at Double-A Tennessee.
"I'm sad to see Dan go -- he's a great guy to be around but also happy for him to go to an American League club," Epstein said. "This will be a chance to get at-bats at the big league level pretty soon. He'll be around for a long time because he can hit and has great energy. Paul Blackburn has done a real nice job taking a step forward this year. He always throws strikes, always takes the ball and has numerous weapons to attack hitters with."
Montgomery, who turned 27 on July 1, was expected to join the Cubs this weekend. The Cubs currently have lefties Travis Wood and Clayton Richard in the bullpen.
"I like making this kind of move early because we hope we've added something to our big league 'pen without taking away from the big league roster," Epstein said. "We haven't touched certain parts of our prospects inventory, which will keep us viable for every opportunity that's still out there between now and Aug. 1. Sometimes you can be in an uncomfortable spot if you haven't done anything [by the non-waiver Trade Deadline]. It's hard not to throw that last player in just to get a deal done if you haven't done anything. I like doing something that you like. This keeps all our opportunities open."
Pries, 26, was 7-3 with a 4.93 ERA in 20 games (12 starts) combined at the Double-A and Triple-A level with the Mariners. The right-handed pitcher can start and relieve, and will probably move into the rotation at Iowa.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.