Blue Jays pick up ex-Cub catcher Montero
NEW YORK—The Blue Jays added some catching depth Monday, picking up veteran catcher Miguel Montero and cash from the Chicago Cubs, for a player to be named later, or cash.
The money being sent to the Jays from the Cubs will pay some, or all, of the $7-million remaining on Montero’s contract that expires this year. The 34-year-old, 12-year veteran catcher from Caracas, Venezuela had been designated for assignment by the Cubs on June 28 and removed from the roster.
Montero started for the Cubs behind the plate on June 27 against the Nationals, his final game. The Nats stole seven bases before Wilson Contreras pinch-hit for Montero in the seventh inning. With Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta on the mound, Trea Turner stole second and third in the first inning. Turner then stole second and third again in the third. Finally, in the fourth inning, Anthony Rendon stole second base and scored, while Michael Taylor stole second and third. On the final stolen base, Montero threw the ball into left field and the runner scored.
Following the game when speaking to reporters, Montero blamed Cubs’ pitchers, especially Arrieta, for not doing a good job of holding runners on base. For the season, base-stealers are 31-1 against Montero, with that one caught stealing on June 9 as the result of a pick-off by the pitcher. Base stealers are 90-8 over the past two seasons with Montero behind the plate.
A lefthanded hitter, Montero, in nine seasons with the Diamondbacks and three more with the Cubs, has hit .260, with 124 home runs and a .758 OPS. He was once on the Blue Jays’ radar as a free agent following the 2014 season, before Russell Martin signed with Toronto.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Jays moved outfielder Darrell Ceciliani to the 60-day disabled list. The current backup catcher for Martin is 26-year-old Luke Maile, who although he is not a good hitter, has a 16-12 record when he is the starting catcher. He is a solid defender and game-caller.
There is likely not room on the major-league roster for three catchers, leaving open the possibility that Maile will be sent to AAA-Buffalo or that Martin may see time on the infield when he is not catching, perhaps at second base.
Blue Jays always are looking for players with talent, but were also
concerned throughout the years about players with solid character. This
year they have dealt with the prickly presence of righthanded starter
Mat Latos and now add the questionable clubhouse persona of Montero.