Posted on July 3, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
As expected, it didn’t take long for veteran catcher Miguel Montero to find a new job. The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Montero on Monday from the Chicago Cubs. The move comes less than a week after the Cubs parted ways with Montero after he publicly criticized Chicago starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. The Cubs will receive either cash considerations or a player to be named later in the deal. However, Chicago appears to be picking up most of the money left on Montero’s contract. He’s making $14 million this year and will be a free agent this winter.
The Cubs will receive either cash considerations or a player to be named later in the deal. However, Chicago appears to be picking up most of the money left on Montero’s contract. He’s making $14 million this year and will be a free agent this winter.
Following a game last week in which Montero allowed the Nationals to steal seven bases, Montero criticized Arrieta for not doing a better job of holding runners on.
“It really sucked because the stolen base goes on me,” Montero said. “When you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time. It’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, Miggy can’t throw anybody out.’ Yeah, but my pitchers don’t hold anybody on.”
Arrieta later said that he agreed with Montero’s assessment and that there were no hard feelings between the two. However, the Cubs brass did not take so kindly to Montero criticizing his teammate so publicly. Thus, the Cubs cut ties with Montero, who has been serving as the backup to Willson Contreras for much of the past year.
From the day Montero was designated for assignment, the Blue Jays always appeared to be a team that would be interested in acquiring the veteran. Despite playing in a part-time role, Montero is in the midst of a productive season offensively. He’s hitting .286 with an OPS of .805, both of which are much higher than last year.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have struggled to find a suitable backup behind the plate all year. Luke Maile is currently in that role. But he’s provided little assistance offensively, hitting .115 in 96 at-bats.
If nothing else, Montero should be a significant upgrade over Maile as the team’s backup. However, there’s a chance that Montero could play his way into a more prominent role in Toronto. Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin has seen both his average and power numbers drop off considerably the past two seasons. Martin entered Monday hitting just .213 on the season. He has just seven home runs and 16 RBIs on the season, a year after contributing 20 home runs and 76 RBIs.
It’s unclear exactly how the Blue Jays will divide playing time between Martin and Montero. However, it’s like they will give Montero an opportunity to be the primary catcher to see if he continues to be productive with regular playing time.
At this point in the season, the Blue Jays desperately need to find something that works and go with it. Toronto has lost eight of its last 10 games, falling 9.5 games out of first place and 4.5 games back in a crowded wild-card race. The Blue Jays did well to bounce back from a terrible April. But they are once again in danger of falling completely out of contention for a playoff spot. The Blue Jays acquiring Montero can be seen as an attempt to find a spark to get things turned around before it’s too late.