Chicago Cubs: Breaking down the team’s catching options
By Jake Misener
Can Montero rebound to re-establish himself?
When the Chicago Cubs dealt for Miguel Montero, the move represented a clear upgrade at the catcher position.
A two-time All-Star with notable pop in his bat, the former Arizona backstop brought experience to the North Side. But, since his arrival, his offensive contributions have waned and his role has reduced with each passing season.
His best career year came back in 2011 when he smacked 18 home runs and drove in 86 runs, a career-high.
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In both 2011 and 2012, he averaged 4.1 WAR. Since joining Chicago, he failed to hit even two wins above replacement, actually falling into negative measures last season.
Last year, he appeared in a mere 86 games for Chicago, due largely in part to the team carrying three catchers on the big league roster. Joining Ross and Contreras, Montero seemed to become more of a mentor and less of a daily contributor.
His struggles at the plate didn’t help his case. In 2016, he batted just .216 – the worst mark of his career. Of course, he had several notable game-winning knocks, but his overall body of work left much to be desired.
Defensively, he trended downward. He caught just 11 percent of attempted base stealers, coming in a -1 defensive runs saved above average. Other metrics suggest that he’s a solid pitch framer, but with how easily teams are running on him, he’s far from an elite defensive catcher.
He’s heading into his age-34 season and his best years are behind him. He’s no longer a reliable starting catcher, but rather a mentor for younger talents on the roster.