Nationals Baseball: Montero

Friday, February 02, 2018


The Nats signed Miguel Montero to a minor league deal.  This shouldn't surprise you. He was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2001 when Rizzo would have been part of the process. Rizzo's D-back connections have gotten the Nats many a player

Max Schezer, Stephen Drew, Micah Owings, Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Hairston, Chad Tracy, & Dan Uggla were all guys Rizzo might have had a hand in drafting that ended up in the Nationals organization at one time or another. There may be more but this isn't a complaint. It makes sense. Rizzo saw something he liked in these players. They played well enough to make the major leagues so he wasn't wrong. Why not take a no-risk chance on someone like this?

The real question is - is Montero any good? And the answer is - no.

2016 - .216 / .327 / .357
2017 - .216 / .310 / .346

Montero used to hit for a little pop and a decent average, making him a pretty good offensive catcher. When he picked up some patience in 2012 it looked like he might have some staying power as he aged. But in 2013 the average dropped like a rock, meaning as soon as the very modest power went with age, no measure of patience would make him a usuable offensive player.  In 2015 he lost the ability to leg out doubles (25 doubles, 29 homers since that year).  In 2017 he stopped hitting homers (as many of his flyballs were infield pop-ups as home runs).  It's unlikely moving forward that he'd be worth putting at the plate.

Still catchers have different standards to live up to and it is not unusual for their defense to keep them on as a back-up for a few years after their bat fails them. Unfortunately Montero has a huge flaw. His framing has always been excellent and seems a competent enough receiver. But after hurting his back in 2016 Montero has no longer been able to throw out anyone. That's almost a literal statement. The league average in throwing out guys is around 27%-28%.  Montero worked himself to a peak of throwing out around 40%. Over the last two years he's thrown out about 10%. The Nats themselves pretty much got him out of Chicago by stealing seven bases against him and making him lash out against Jake Arrieta for supposedly holding guys on badly.  Even if that's true - that the Cubs team philosophy or starters were costing him some caught stealings - traded to another team Montero manage to raise his CS% all the way to... 13%.

Montero as is is an almost unusable catcher. He can't hit so he's not a starter. He can't throw anyone out so he's not a defensive replacement. Then why bring him in? As a favor. Just to kick the tires. Maybe a miracle has happened and the back has healed and he can throw guys out again making him a potential back-up. Maybe you think you see what's wrong and can mitigate his throwing issues and at the same time he seems to have a little more pop. There's no harm in looking.

I don't see Montero on the team, or in the organization, by the time Opening Day rolls around but strange things happen. I am all for any and all minor league signings.


Positively Half St. said...

That is the best take on the signing that I have seen. Thanks

Anonymous said...

So close to the cap, should Nats even be spending this money?

Dan said...

This signing is low risk-low return. Maybe he strengthened his back and rakes in Spring Training and his caught stealing numbers improve. Unlikely, but it's happened and if it does, he's your backup catcher. Otherwise, an inexpensive risk taken. But this may be a signal to the Marlins that we don't need Realmuto, that they'd better think about taking our offer (the only offer left after the D-backs made their move) or be stuck with a disgruntled guy making unsavory quotes about new management in the papers the next few seasons. I'd start talking to Lucroy and leaking that to the press, as well.

Harper said...

Anon @ 7:38 - it's a minor league deal and I only think rostered players count against the cap so it's not an issue unless Montero makes the team, and then he'd be making the ML minimum like Severino would. Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right that only roster players count toward the cap, but if he makes the team he earns 1.3m with incentives that could take it to 3m. Granted, it's not likely he makes the 3m but is more than the ML minimum. There's nothing wrong with this move though. Nats probably have concerns about Severino/Read being ready to be the backup, so they signed a veteran to compete with them during spring training.

Froggy said...

Harper, do you think the Nats strategy towards Realmuto was to wait for the results of his arbitration hearing before making an offer?

Which he lost BTW.

Anonymous said...

Froggy, no. The Marlins GM has been away on a 7 day marathon.

Anonymous said...

Montero making the squad would be worrying...Todd Frazier in a Mets uni is more worrying to me at present

DezoPenguin said...

Well, unless the Nats get carried away with "veteran presents" (less likely with Dusty no longer in charge, though there's the Martinez Cubs connection to be obscurely worrying) then Montero will only make the team if he shows in ST that he's healed. If he actually earns his incentives, then we shouldn't complain because it'll mean that he was actually good, which solves 2018's C problems and saves us having to make a midseason deal. (And if we trade for Realmuto or the like before the season, there's no way Montero makes the squad unless we manage to unload Wieters's salary.)

Love Baseball said...

It's a honorable news for us.