In the immediate wake of Russell Martin signing with the Toronto Blue Jays for five years and $82 million, folks openly wondered whether (1) the Chicago Cubs would move on to another catching target, (2) whether the pursuit of Martin wasn’t so much about “need new catcher” as “really like Martin, specifically”, and (3) if the Cubs did move on to another target, would they go after some like Miguel Montero or Jason Castro or Yasmani Grandal in trade?
Well, I don’t know if I can definitively answer any of those questions just yet, but a report from Nick Piecoro provides at least one data point. Piecoro writes that, according to a source, the Diamondbacks have been speaking to teams about a number of players, including Montero, and the Cubs, together with the Dodgers and White Sox, are among the teams that the Diamondbacks have spoken with about Montero. Importantly, though, Piecoro indicates that those talks “have not picked up significantly” since Martin signed.
Now, then. Even if the Cubs weren’t absolutely committed to picking up a new starting catcher this offseason, I would have expected them to do some diligence on Montero once it became clear that the Diamondbacks would make him available. Teams explore virtually everything, and there was a chance of a fit there. So, the fact that there may have been discussions between these teams isn’t particularly surprising or remarkable. It’s not like Piecoro is reporting any advanced talks or names exchanged or anything of the sort.
Instead, what I find modestly more interesting is the part about talks not picking up – with any team – in the days since Martin signed. Does that mean a team like the Cubs isn’t merely looking for the best catching upgrade out there? Does it suggest that the pursuit of Martin was pretty much just about Martin? After all, once Martin went off the board, Montero may be the next best fit out there.
Eh … I actually wouldn’t read that much into it. Although I definitely find Piecoro’s report interesting, and it does tend to supplement our own speculation about Montero as a possible target, you’ve got to keep in mind just how early in the offseason it is. Even if the Cubs did want Montero, there would be no need to come sprinting to the Diamondbacks immediately after missing out on Martin.
Instead, considering Montero (or Castro or Grandal or whatever) is something that can play out a little more slowly over the course of the offseason, depending on what else the Cubs (and Diamondbacks) wind up doing.
I do find Montero to be a potentially interesting acquisition (discussed a bit more here and a little bit here), and the possibility of pairing him in a platoon with incumbent Welington Castillo is particularly intriguing, but I wouldn’t see any need for a rush here. I suppose that equation changes if the Diamondbacks start getting into serious talks with another team, but it doesn’t sound like that’s happening just yet.