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Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jays Looking At Miguel Montero, Per Heyman

The Russell Martin second base experience is nearly upon us! Or at least that’s what I’d like to believe based on this tweet!

The man with the Twitter handle in Heyman’s tweet is, of course, Miguel Montero. Formerly the Cubs’ backup catcher, he was designated DFA yesterday — a day after causing a stir, not only by allowing seven runners to steal bases in a loss to the Nationals, but for throwing one teammate, Jake Arrieta, under the bus in the aftermath.

“It really sucks because the stolen bases go on me,” Montero said. “When you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time. It’s just like: ‘Yeah, OK, Miggy can’t throw nobody out.’ Yeah, but my pitchers don’t hold anybody on. It’s tough, because it doesn’t matter how much work I put in.”

Maybe he wasn’t even wrong about that. Gregg Zaun would probably be quick to remind fans that he, somewhat unfairly, had to wear the club’s trouble stopping the running game back in the mid-2000s, when he was getting no help from pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay. Zaun Cherry, of course, would probably also be quick to tell you that he would never have thrown his teammates under the bus about it.

In a radio hit this morning, Anthony Rizzo said what I’m sure a lot of his teammates were also thinking about the situation:

Yowza.

And so now Montero is on the market, and… he looks pretty good, actually! If you can look past the comments and the inability to stop runners from taking extra bases. Both of which are legitimate problems, but otherwise there is quite a bit to like here.

Montero has graded out slightly below average in terms of pitch framing this season, but is typically among the truly elite. And with a 112 wRC+ from a .286/.366/.439 slash line, he’d instantly look like one of the Jays’ better hitters.

Granted, the hitting numbers are helped by his BABIP and by the fact that the Cubs were able to use him selectively — he’s been the backup to Willson Contreras these past two seasons — but I think we’d all take that over Luke Maile and his holy shit he has a negative fourteen wRC+ -14 wRC+. Provided the base stealing thing didn’t get too out of control.

But Maile can be optioned to Buffalo and brought back if a Montero experiment didn’t work out, so I could see why the Jays might have interest here.

Of course, being designated DFA doesn’t mean that he’s on the open market just yet. The Cubs have a ten day period of control still left, during which they can release him, place him on waivers, or trade him. I’m not sure that there will be any kind of bidding war for a guy in Montero’s situation, but with the Cubs looking at being on the hook for the rest of his 2017 salary anyway (he’ll make $14 million this year, or just slightly more than Connor McDavid’s new contract will pay him LOL), maybe they can find someone desperate enough to make a some sort of a deal — say, a non-prospect and a willingness to pay at least a little bit of what’s left on the contract. So maybe it’s not going to be quite so simple as snapping him up for the league minimum once he’s released, and maybe that’s enough to turn the Jays off.

But maybe not! And while they’ve said all the right things about Maile and the way he’s handled the pitching staff, this certainly seems like an upgrade. And… y’know… like I say… if it really works out, maybe there’s your second base fix, too! I’m serious! I think! Maybe? Perhaps!!!

  • Player to Be Named Later

    So, this is an addition that could be made by just spending a little bit of money — that’s exactly the kind of thing a team with rich ownership should do.

  • Jeff2sayshi

    Put him in the AL where there are fewer stolen bases, and that’s one problem gone. This is a definite upgrade, but I’d be shocked if 20 other teams weren’t also thinking the same thing.

  • MINIMAX

    Holy shit Maile’s wRC+ number is really low… but I’m not sure why I should care if Maile puts up zeros at the plate as long as he can put down thieves and bounced pitches… as long as he minimizes the mental expenditure of pitchers on anything other than their pitches, isn’t that the primary job description?

    Also it’s harder to get a sense for what the curve of that metric means at the extremities… is it meaningful (or fair) to compare a backup catcher’s offensive production to the league average? What about the catchers’ average, or second-stringers’ average? Still low I presume, but the recent BABIP article said Maile’s had “some of the very worst luck” … unless BABIP is already baked into the wRC+ somehow? I’m going to have to do more than skim the sabremetric literature, it seems… but it feels like it ain’t broke.