Cubs complete trade with D-backs for Montero
Club acquires lefty-hitting catcher in exchange for two Minor Leaguers
SAN DIEGO -- The Cubs now feel they have the perfect complement of catchers with the addition of left-handed-hitting Miguel Montero.
On Tuesday, the Cubs acquired Montero from the D-backs for Minor League right-handed pitchers Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley.
"He's a veteran, he cares a lot about winning," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of Montero. "He's pretty vocal. In the right environment, he can be a leader for this ballclub. He's just a perfect fit."
Montero will share the job with Welington Castillo, who hit a career-high 13 home runs this past season but batted .237, including a .216 average against right-handed pitchers. Castillo hit .301 against lefties, and the addition of a left-handed-hitting catcher should definitely help the Cubs' lineup.
There were reports Tuesday that the Cubs may try to deal Castillo, but Epstein said that's not the case.
"We're not shopping Welly at all," Epstein said. "The second that the Montero news came out, we got calls from other teams about Welly, and we'll always listen -- you'd be crazy not to listen. We like the way the two fit together."
Montero, 31, batted .243 in 136 games last season with the D-backs, hitting 13 home runs and driving in 72 runs. He's owed $40 million over the next three years, and the Cubs will assume all of the money.
"He had a little dip in his career at some point when things weren't going quite as well," Epstein said, "and he responded in the right way ... and we think he's primed to the change of scenery and the type of young club that will be around him to take a pretty prominent leadership role and take a real interest in the pitching staff -- handling them the right way, framing really well, receiving well, calling a good game, working with our staff to execute a game plan."
The Cubs did try to upgrade at catcher by pursuing free agent Russell Martin, who decided to sign with the Blue Jays. Epstein said they began talks with the D-backs about Montero before Martin picked Toronto.
The addition of Montero doesn't block the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, Kyle Schwarber, a promising catcher who appears to be on a fast track.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was excited about Montero's arrival, saying the addition of a "left-handed-hitting catcher with some thump is appealing."
"It really gives us a solid presence in the catching position," Maddon said. "It's a great first step building into this winter."
Mejia, 20, was 2-4 in 12 games last season in the Arizona Rookie League, his second professional season, giving up 11 earned runs over 40 innings. Godley, 24, was the Cubs' 10th-round pick in the 2013 Draft, out of Tennessee, and he was a combined 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA at Class A Kane County and Class A Advanced Daytona last season, striking out 77 over 55 1/3 innings.