After being considered a front-runner for Russell Martin, then losing out, the Chicago Cubs turned to plan B behind the plate. What that turned out to be was a two-headed addition of Miguel Montero and David Ross, while Welington Castillo is left to ponder his future in Chicago.
Manager Joe Maddon will most likely use them as a platoon with lefty Montero facing righties, and Ross facing the southpaws. While Ross is known to be Jon Lester‘s “personal catcher”, he didn’t sign to play once every five days. But the Montero addition could be one of the most pivotal.
The biggest plus Montero brings to the team is his ability to hit against righties (.256) compared to Castillo (.216). He also had better numbers in most categories including runs batted in, average, and OPS.
Montero is a two-time All-Star who has been in the majors for nine years. On a team that will be reliant on young, inexperienced players, Montero can command teammates from behind the dish and bring veteran leadership that the Cubs have been in need of.
While his stats and experience are an upgrade from Castillo, it is yet to be known if Montero will be enough to help the Cubs make the leap to contending for the division. After hitting .284 from 2011-12, his average dropped to .237 over the past two seasons. Although he showed some improvement last season, he is now 31-years-old. It’s a possibility that he will be a sub-.250 hitter for the remaining three years of his contract, which would be disappointing to the Cubs on the offensive side.
But Montero was brought in for his leadership, as well as his ability behind the plate. Mostly the respect umpires give him in the strike zone, with his pitch-framing. It’s an ability that is becoming widely recognized, and one that Castillo didn’t seem to get.
As of now it looks as if the Cubs may head to Spring Training with all three catchers, unless the Cubs can work something out before then. Most teams are on to the fact the team would like to deal Castillo, and won’t give up more than they have to for him.