As had been rumored for the past day, and has been discussed for a few weeks, today the Chicago Cubs wrapped up a deal for 31-year-old catcher Miguel Montero, for whom they’ll send minor league pitchers Jefferson Mejia and Zack Godley to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal has not yet been officially announced by the Cubs, but it has been confirmed by multiple sources. I will update when it is official. (UPDATE: It’s official.)
In Montero, the Cubs get an ideal platoon-mate for Welington Castillo, if that’s the route they choose to go, and a veteran leader with a lefty bat and on-base skills. That checks a huge number of boxes for the Cubs, and I’ll have a lot more on what Montero means to the Cubs soon. For now, suffice it to say that, while I won’t argue that he’s Russell Martin, he’s probably the next best thing for the Cubs. And he came at a cheaper price.
About that price, in addition to the prospects, the Cubs will likely be assuming all of Montero’s three-year, $40 million contract. What would Montero get if he were a free agent right now? Probably not four years, but his salary would likely be right there in that range, especially given the dearth of catching options out there. That the Cubs gave up prospects in addition to taking on the contract suggests a prevailing believe that, indeed, Montero is “worth” more than his current contract.
Montero makes $12 million in 2015 and $14 million each of the next two years thereafter. With Jason Hammel at $9 million (and Joe Maddon at $5 million), the Cubs have added $26 million to the books for 2015 so far, give or take a non-tender or La Stella/Vizcaino swap.
Ah, and the prospects.
Jefferson Mejia, one of the Cubs’ pick-ups during the 2013 IFA spending spree, is a tall, powerful 20-year-old with tons of projection. He made his stateside debut last year, and pitched well, albeit in rookie ball. There’s a lot to like there, and I’m not surprised the Diamondbacks wanted him. That said, he’s a long way away from the bigs.
Zack Godley, 24, has been a very good reliever in the lower minors since the Cubs drafted him in the 10th round in 2013. He could be a future big leaguer, but lower-level, older players currently serving as relievers tend to have limited upside.
Sure, there’s some sting associated with losing Mejia, and, to a lesser extent, Godley. But you have to keep in mind that a great deal of the value tied up in lower-level prospects is their asset value, rather than the value they might provide if they one day reach the bigs and contribute. A big part of the reason the Cubs have stockpiled these kinds of players over the past few years is for this very reason. For trades like this. For acquisitions. Because the prospects are a currency.
This is a very good deal for the Cubs.