Miguel Montero Rumors

Dodgers Notes: Haren, Shields, Santana, Peavy

There has been much speculation about Dan Haren‘s role in the impending six-player trade between the Dodgers and Marlins, as Haren has openly said that he’d rather retire than pitch anywhere but for one of the two Los Angeles teams.  Angels GM Jerry Dipoto shot down speculation that the Marlins could flip Haren to his team, telling reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that his team wasn’t trading for Haren.

As we wait for either of today’s two blockbuster Dodgers trades to be finalized, here’s some more news from Chavez Ravine…

  • There are rumors around the Winter Meetings that the Dodgers are making these big moves to position themselves to sign James Shields, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports (Twitter link).
  • The rumored Andre Ethier-for-Miguel Montero swap with the Diamondbacks fell apart because of how much money the Dodgers would have had to pay, Saxon reports (via Twitter).  Arizona ended up dealing Montero to the Cubs yesterday.
  • Also from Saxon, the Dodgers haven’t made any inquiries about Ervin Santana.
  • The Dodgers have been talking to other free agent pitchers, however, including Jake Peavy, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.
  • Rumors of a Matt Kemp deal to the Padres “has legs,” a source tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  The two sides have made some progress but nothing is official yet.  Yasmani Grandal would be the main piece coming back from San Diego and Heyman hears the Dodgers have also asked for pitchers Joe Ross and Zach Eflin (though Heyman isn’t sure if both would be included if the deal happened.)

Cubs Acquire Miguel Montero

Catcher Miguel Montero is officially headed from the Diamondbacks to the Cubs. Young pitchers Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia make up the return to Arizona in the deal.

While final details remain unknown, reports have consistently indicated that Chicago will take on most or all of the remaining financial commitments to Montero. The sides were said to be in talks yesterday.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona DiamondbacksMontero, a left-handed hitter, has three years and $40MM left on his deal. The 31-year-old has had two down years after establishing himself as one of the best-hitting backstops in the game. Last year, he slashed .243/.329/.370 with 13 home runs in 560 plate appearances.

But Montero still hits righties quite well and could make up half of a high-quality platoon in Chicago with incumbent Welington Castillo. (Unless, that is, Castillo is dealt elsewhere, in which case Montero will presumably be paired with a different right-handed bat.) Montero rated as an excellent pitch framer (per StatCorner) and strong overall defender (via Baseball Prospectus) last year.

Godley is a 24-year-old righty who has yet to move past the High-A level in Chicago’s system. Working at Daytona last year, he put up a 3.57 ERA in 40 1/3 frames with 11.6 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.

Mejia, 20, reached Rookie ball last year after being inked by the Cubs on July 2 of 2013. As Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote at the time, the 6’7 prospect had been adding weight and fastball velocity at the time of his signing. He ultimately went for a $850K bonus. Mejia features a low-90s heater with a good change and decent curve. That fastball velo may still be trending up, per MLB.com, which ranked him 17th among Cubs prospects. Working mostly as a reliever, he threw to a 2.48 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 40 innings last year.

As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes notes on Twitter, Arizona would leave itself without much behind the dish were it to deal away Montero. The free agent market for backstops is rather thin, of course, with Geovany Soto among the most appealing options. Players such as Dioner Navarro may be had via trade, though prying loose a more permanent solution may be difficult.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Twitter that the deal was in its final stages of completion. Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com (via Twitter) reported that the deal was done. And Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter) and Levine (Twitter link) reported the other pieces in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Cubs, D’Backs Discussing Miguel Montero

11:31pm: A source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) that a deal isn’t close to fruition.

10:30pm: If the deal happens, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter) hears it’ll “likely” be for two Single-A pitchers.

8:46pm: The return for Montero wouldn’t be big, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (two tweets). The DBacks would receive low level prospects with the Cubs assuming most or all of Montero’s $40MM contract. Rosenthal hears Arizona would receive pitching prospects (via Twitter).

8:28pm: The Cubs and Diamondbacks are discussing a trade that would send Miguel Montero to Chicago, sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The two teams are expected to talk again tonight, Rosenthal tweets.  The Cubs and Diamondbacks have been engaged for weeks and a deal appears to be getting closer. There is no word yet as to what the Cubs have on offer.

Montero, 31, has three years and $40MM remaining on his current contract. The left-handed backstop struggles against same-handed pitching, including a .198/.252/.311 line in 115 plate appearances last season. He was considerably better against right-handers, with a .256/.348/.386 slash.

He started strong last season. His performance dwindled as the season wore on, leading some (including me) to speculate that he tired. In Chicago, Montero could form a potent platoon with Cubs incumbent Welington Castillo, who hits very well against southpaws – .301/.350/.505 last year. The presence of Castillo could also help to keep Montero fresh.

As a catcher, Montero draws strong grades on his pitch framing. Per StatCorner, he accrued the most framing value of any catcher last season. He caught 29% of base runners in 2014 which is solid but slightly below his career average.

Interestingly, the Cubs recently hired former Diamondbacks coach Henry Blanco. He mentored Montero last season and could be a factor in the Cubs interest. Buster Olney of ESPN was the first to deduce the connection (via Twitter).



NL West Rumors: Montero, Greinke, Ross

The Giants have fallen short on a few free agent targets this offseason, but they’re not worried, reports Henry Schulman in a series of tweets. Per Schulman, the Giants don’t feel a need to “win” bidding wars. They’ll stick to their dollar figure, which could affect their pursuit of Jon Lester. The club clearly wasn’t comfortable topping the $68MM offer to Yasmany Tomas or $44MM offer to Nick Markakis. In the case of another free agent they missed out on – Pablo Sandoval – the Giants reportedly made a comparable offer to the Red Sox.

  • Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that the D’Backs would need to be “overwhelmed” to move Mark Trumbo.  Still, the Mariners are among the teams that are monitoring the situation.
  • Earlier today, Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa said that contrary to reports, there was no agreed upon deal with the Dodgers that would have sent Miguel Montero to L.A.  When asked if a Montero-to-the-Dodgers deal could still happen, La Russa said, “The conversations are not what they were before. I think it’s less likely,” according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (via Twitter).  However, La Russa added that ownership has not deemed Montero untouchable (link).
  • Dodgers president Andrew Friedman says that he’ll let the year play out before addressing Zack Greinke‘s opt out clause, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).  From the sound of it, the Dodgers don’t have extension talks with the pitcher on their agenda for this winter.
  • Friedman said he would have zero hesitation in trading players within the division, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Friedman went on to say (link) that he has not visited any free agents this winter.
  • Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter) doesn’t think that there’s much to the speculation that the Rangers will make a run at Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner.  Texas reportedly has more interest in Tyson Ross.

West Rumors: Trumbo, Montero, Cabrera

Even though Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said last week that he will not trade Mark Trumbo, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter) hears that he is still in play for Arizona.  There was once talk of a three-way deal involving Trumbo that fell through but he remains available. A look at the AL and NL West..

  • Tony La Russa said the the Diamondbacks had talks with the Dodgers about Miguel Montero but they never had a deal in place, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • The Mariners are pondering a wide range of possibilities for an outfield bat, including trades, and they’re not locked in on Melky Cabrera at this point, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that the M’s are the favorites for the outfielder.
  • Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson has switched agents and joined Excel Sports Management, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • Despite being connected to him, the Astros did not seriously pursue Jason Hammel, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). They did make an inquiry, however.  Hammel ultimately returned to the Cubs on a two-year pact.

Quick Hits: Upton, Robertson, Headley, Ethier, Mets Shortstop

Justin Upton might be the best hitter on the market, but that’s not the only reason teams want him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports. With one year and $14.5MM remaining on his contract, Upton is a financial steal. If a team acquires him this offseason, they’ll also be looking at a free draft pick when he declines their qualifying offer. He’s in his physical prime at 27 years old, and he’s a former number one overall pick. Heyman lists the Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Orioles, and Padres as possible destinations. We can expect the Braves to receive a notable player in return – after all, they netted Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden.

  • The Yankees would like to re-sign Chase Headley and David Robertson, reports Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. However, New York refuses to go overboard, which may let other clubs swoop in on the pair of free agents. Headley is said to have a four-year, $65MM offer on the table, and the Giants are reportedly “getting aggressive.” It’s unknown at this time if San Francisco is the team that offered the $65MM deal. The Yankees aren’t expected to value Headley that highly. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays supposedly “love” Robertson, and the Astros are in on him too. After New York signed Andrew Miller last week, there is less urgency to sign another relief ace.
  • A proposed swap of Andre Ethier and Miguel Montero fell through, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Diamondbacks would have received Ethier and catcher Tim Federowicz for Montero and lower level prospects. The Dodgers would have also kicked in money to help balance the extra $16MM guaranteed to Ethier over the next three seasons. Rosenthal lists a couple reasons the deal may have fallen through. DBacks owner Ken Kendrick is a fan of Montero, and Arizona may be hesitant to trade with their former GM Josh Byrnes on the other side of the negotiations (Byrnes is now the Dodgers Sr. VP of Baseball Operations).
  • Shortstop tops the Mets wish list at the winter meetings, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. While club officials keep saying they’re comfortable with Wilmer Flores, an upgrade would be welcomed. Unfortunately for the Mets, there aren’t many options available. The Mariners have a couple shortstops, but they have talked about using Brad Miller in the outfield. Other trade targets like Alexei Ramirez, Starlin Castro, and Troy Tulowitzki strike me as unlikely to move. As we know, the free agent market is bleak. Many clubs prefer Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie at second base. The next best options, Stephen Drew and Everth Cabrera, have a lot to prove before a team trusts them as a starter.

Quick Hits: Upton, Montero, Rays, Hunter, Pirates

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the ten players most likely to be traded this offseason and the Braves’ Justin Upton tops the list. Castrovince feels the Braves could obtain a similar, if not better, return than they received for Jason Heyward because Upton’s powerful bat has tremendous value.

Here are the latest notes from around baseball:

  • Miguel Montero placed tenth on Castrovince’s list and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the hiring of Henry Blanco will create traction for the Cubs‘ interest in the Diamondbacks’ catcher, who was a Blanco pupil in 2014. The D’Backs have reportedly spoken with the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox about Montero.
  • With Jose Molina gone, the Rays are working to add a backup to Ryan Hanigan, either via trade or signing. They’d like a catcher with more experience than Curt Casali and, preferably, options, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • More from Topkin who reports, in addition to an expected trade of Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus, the Rays may be looking to deal from depth in reserve infielders and relievers. He identifies Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez as infield trade possibilities and Brandon Gomes as a bullpen arm who could be moved.
  • It may not be “sexy,” but the Red Sox‘s pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes perfect sense, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox appear to be one of the finalists for Sandoval, alongside the Padres and incumbent Giants.
  • Torii Hunter told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press he favors the Twins among the teams with which he is considering signing. “(Twins General Manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure,” the veteran said. Ten teams reportedly have interest in Hunter.
  • The Pirates could re-allocate the resources set aside for Russell Martin to pursue rotation and bullpen help, a first baseman, and/or sign some of their young core to extensions, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

NL West Notes: Preller, Montero, D’Backs, Anderson, Giants

A pair of rival executives described Padres GM A.J. Preller as “all over the map” when asked by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Preller, Rosenthal writes, is furiously exploring both trade and free agent possibilities to boost his new club’s offense. According to Rosenthal, Preller was in contact with the Braves about Jason Heyward prior to their trade with the Cardinals, and he’s also called on Jay Bruce and Matt Kemp in addition to showing legitimate interest in Pablo Sandoval. One of Preller’s colleagues estimated to Rosenthal that the San Diego GM has had “baseline discussions” on at least 200 players this offseason. Suffice it to say, Padres fans should likely expect some form of significant move in Preller’s first offseason at the helm.

Elsewhere in the division…

  • Trade talks regarding Miguel Montero have not escalated significantly since Russell Martin came off the board and signed with the Blue Jays, reports the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro (the Montero portion comes at the bottom of the article). However, the D’Backs have spoken to the White Sox, Cubs and Dodgers about Montero, who is owed $40MM over the next three seasons.
  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart was recently in the Dominican Republic, and senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson is in Mexico scouting some of the top international teens on the market. The D’Backs are hoping to make waves on the international front soon, he adds.
  • The Rockies are still interested in re-signing Brett Anderson to a more team-friendly deal than the $12MM option they declined, tweets the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders. However, the Royals and Astros are interested in adding Anderson under similar circumstances, he adds.
  • Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans said on KNBR radio yesterday that his team is very interested in both Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada (via Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). However, Evans wouldn’t commit one way or another when asked if his club had the money to sign both Tomas and Sandoval.

D’Backs Notes: Maeda, Billingsley, Montero

The Diamondbacks will be in the hunt for Kenta Maeda if the Japanese righty is made available this winter, GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert).  “I love Maeda,” Stewart said. “I love him. We have a lot of video and film and we have people who have seen him. We think that he’s got a chance to be very successful in Major League Baseball. We’re going to try to be in on the market when he does post, if he does post.”  Here’s some more notes from Stewart and other Snakes-related items…

  • Stewart confirmed the team’s interest in Chad Billingsley, saying the right-hander is “definitely a possibility for us.”  Billingsley has been sidelined for almost two full seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a torn flexor tendon.  Stewart represented Billingsley back when the GM was a player agent.
  • I don’t know how big we’re going to play” for Yasmany Tomas, Stewart said, given the Cuban outfielder’s escalating price tag.  The D’Backs do like Tomas’ potential and they “definitely have to consider being a part of that.”
  • The Diamondbacks want to acquire a starting pitcher, though Stewart won’t pay too much of a prospect cost to do so.  “I’m not trying to put us in a backward position, especially in our Minor League system,” the GM said.
  • Stewart again stressed that he hasn’t “shopped any of our players,” including catcher Miguel Montero, though “all of our players have been asked about.  That’s the best way I can put it.”  Montero has been rumored to be available as Arizona looks to free up some payroll space.  Stewart said he hasn’t spoken to Montero about the trade rumors since “I don’t see any point in raising concerns when there are none.”
  • Montero’s market is examined by Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, who feels that while Montero could be draw attention from teams who fail to sign Russell Martin, the Arizona catcher’s recent poor hitting and hefty contract could be deterrents.  “If [the D’Backs] won’t chew down any dollars, I’d say the return won’t be as good as most think.  It also depends on how motivated the acquiring club is,” a rival executive told Piecoro.
  • Stewart is keeping an open mind about whether to use Daniel Hudson as a starter or a reliever as the right-hander continues his recovery from his second Tommy John surgery, Piecoro reports.  “We had a discussion about that, and we’re not really sure.  We’d like to best utilize him in a way that we can get the most out of him,” Stewart said.  “We’re going to have to have more discussions with our training staff, and I’d like to ask some people externally about what they think of his condition and how we can best utilize him without hurting him.”

D’Backs Open To Trading Miguel Montero

TUESDAY: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to GM Dave Stewart, who characterized talks for Montero as due diligence rather than shopping the catcher. However, Piecoro also spoke with a source from a rival club and got the same sense that Rosenthal did: “They’ve definitely put him out there.”

Stewart stressed to Piecoro that the D’Backs aren’t interested in strictly dumping salary and added that any move the team makes “has to better our rotation.”

Piecoro speculates that the Cubs, White Sox and Rangers could be interested in taking on Montero. The Cubs have previously expressed interest in Montero, he writes, also adding that Cubs president Theo Epstein tried to land Montero back when he was still GM of the Red Sox as well.

SUNDAY: The Diamondbacks are considering trades for catcher Miguel Montero, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  A D’Backs official says the team is in “listening mode” for offers while rival teams say Arizona is openly shopping Montero’s services.

Montero has three years and $40MM remaining on the five-year, $60MM extension he signed with the D’Backs in May 2012.  After posting a .798 OPS over the first seven years of his career, Montero’s hitting has dropped off, as the catcher has only posted a .237/.324/.358 slash line in 1035 PA since the start of the 2013 season.  You’ll note that large number of plate appearances for a catcher; as Rosenthal mentions, Montero has played more games behind the plate than any other catcher over the last four seasons.

This wear-and-tear could have contributed to Montero’s offensive decline and some teams could therefore be wary of acquiring the 31-year-old, or he could be seen as a rebound candidate if he gets more regular rest, Rosenthal observed.  While Montero has posted negative Defensive Runs Saved totals in each of the last three seasons, he is still considered one of baseball’s best pitch-framers.

The Diamondbacks would be looking to create some extra payroll space by moving Montero, though Rosenthal speculates that the team may have to cover some of his remaining salary and the D’Backs would need to find a replacement catcher since they don’t have any Major League-ready catching options in reserve.  With a very thin free agent catching market outside of Russell Martin, however, you’d expect Montero to attract some interest from teams looking to upgrade behind the plate.

Also from Rosenthal’s piece, the Diamondbacks have received a lot of calls about Wade Miley and A.J. Pollock, though the team isn’t interested in moving either player.  Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius, meanwhile, continue to draw attention from clubs looking for middle infield help.