The Blue Jays signed Miguel Montero to come in and help out their back-up catcher situation, especially with the injury to Luke Maile. The problem is, he has provided next to no value.
The Blue Jays have won four straight games, sweeping the Oakland A’s in dramatic fashion to start a new week, and suddenly have breathed some hope into a dejected fan base. It took some great pitching performances from the bullpen, and some dramatic home runs, but the Blue Jays are back within six games of .500.
With that in mind, the focus has shifted back to 2017, at least temporarily. Many fans and writers (myself included), had written off the chances of contending this year, and to be clear, those chances remain razor thin. And with a glimmer of hope comes a different approach from the front office.
When you’re a contender, you can’t take a “let’s see what the kid’s got” approach, much in the way John Gibbons talked about Cesar Valdez prior to his start earlier this week. Granted, his start was born out of injury necessity, and he performed very well, but things get a little more serious when you’re six games back of .500, rather than 10, as they were at the onset of the week.
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If the Blue Jays are going to focus on contending this year, then they need to make a few moves to shore up the roster. I don’t mean making a trade that would gut the farm system, or even making a trade at all. If I had control of the club and was in charge of making a few tweaks, I would start by cutting Miguel Montero.
The 34 year old was brought in at the beginning of July, and activated on the fourth when Luke Maile was placed on the disabled list. Maile has since had surgery to deal with a torn meniscus, and the club hasn’t issued much in the way of updates on his progress, so it appears he’ll be out for awhile yet.
Still, even without the option of bringing Maile back, the Blue Jays can’t afford to carry him on their big league roster any longer. Since arriving north of the border, he’s just 2-25, with a pair of singles and three walks to his credit. His slash line reads .080/.179/.080, making Luke Maile look like a silver slugger candidate. Granted, it’s a very small sample size, but things haven’t been pretty in the batter’s box for the 2x All-Star.
As lost as he’s looked at the plate, his defence has been even worse, as opposing teams have run against him at will. He did manage to throw out one runner, giving him a mark of 1-8 with the Blue Jays and bringing his season total to 2-38, or in simpler terms, 5%. That’s not a typo.
It’s not even that he’s only caught 1-8 behind the plate, it’s that teams have little to no respect for his ability to throw out a runner. He’s only caught 57.2 innings in a Blue Jays uniform, and when he’s been called on to throw out a runner, more often than not his throw doesn’t even make it to second base. It that limited time on the field, he’s already authored a line of -0.5 bWAR with the Jays, bringing him to a season total of -0.2 (he had a +0.7 on the offensive side while with Chicago).
He came to the Blue Jays after a falling out with the Cubs earlier this year, mostly over the issue of his inability to throw out base runners. The Cubs were displeased with his comments about Jake Arrieta‘s role in the stat line, and he found himself looking for a job, which is how he ended up in Toronto.
By all reports, his behaviour has been top notch with his new ball club, but unfortunately the defensive performance has not improved. At some point, you have to ask how much worse Mike Ohlman would do as the back-up, or if there’s a cheap solution on the trade market or waiver wire. With plenty of rumours surrounding catchers like Jonathan Lucroy, Alex Avila, and other backstops, there will be plenty of shifting pieces in the next week. If someone becomes available for next to nothing, Montero could be looking for his third team of 2017.
Don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happens. Maybe the Blue Jays are willing to give him a longer audition, but with all due respect to the veteran, I’ve seen enough to move on.