With the Blue Jays adding Miguel Montero in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, it’s left some fans wondering if that means anything for Russell Martin’s future. The answer is almost certainly a resounding no.
By now you’ve likely heard the news that the Blue Jays acquired Miguel Montero in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are sending cash considerations along with Montero (likely covering the bulk of what’s remaining on his 2017 contract), and the Blue Jays are sending back a player to be named later, or cash considerations.
Montero is a two time All-Star, and he had fallen out of favour in the Cubs organization, especially this season. He was the starter in Chicago at one time, but now they largely count on Willson Contreras, a talented youngster with a more well-rounded skill set. Montero was getting some playing time, receiving 112 at bats in Chicago before the trade, but was struggling greatly on defence, throwing out just one out of 32 baserunners thus far this season.
He does have some talent, especially with the bat, and was hitting .286/.366/.439, adding four home runs and eight RBI as well in limited opportunity in Chicago. In Toronto, he figures to take over as the back-up catcher for Luke Maile, who brings next to nothing on the offensive side of the ball.
I was curious to see how the fans would react to the news of Montero’s addition, and not so surprisingly there were several wondering if that meant anything for the future of Russell Martin in Toronto. I’ve been wrong before, but I would venture to guess it will have next to no effect on Martin.
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If anything, Montero’s addition is a signal from the front office that they haven’t thrown in the towel on this season yet, despite their horrendous play over the last two weeks. He doesn’t fit as a replacement for Martin for several reasons. First and foremost, his contract expires at season’s end, while Martin still has two years remaining on his pact.
The Canadian catcher is also owed 40 million over those final two seasons, a hefty number for any player, but especially for one that will be beginning the 2018 at the age of 35. If anything, bringing Montero aboard will help to keep Martin fresh, especially if the team can somehow pull themselves back into the playoff race this season.
For as talented as Martin still is, it’s difficult to imagine many teams wanting to take on that kind of financial commitment, and even more of a stretch to expect much of a return for him in that case. The Blue Jays could kick in money, but without a clear answer at backstop for next season and beyond, it doesn’t make much sense to shop the veteran backstop. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins also don’t strike me as the type to eat salary either, but I could be totally out to lunch on that.
For now, look at Montero as a cheap offensive upgrade that they acquired for basically nothing. If his attitude is an issue in Toronto, some combination of veterans or manager John Gibbons will deal with it accordingly. He also has to know that he’s gotta turn his reputation around, and will likely be on his best behaviour in Toronto. His addition might mean a few things in Toronto, but the only effect it should have on Martin is the chance to rest him more, if Gibbons chooses.