CHICAGO -- Willson Contreras has solidified himself as the Cubs' everyday catcher, and he does everything he can to remain in the lineup.
But after an MRI on Monday revealed that he has a strain of the arch muscle on the inside of his right foot -- which landed him on the injured list on Tuesday (retroactive to Sunday), as expected -- they traded for Royals catcher Martín Maldonado on Monday night, sending left-hander Mike Montgomery to Kansas City.
Maldonado was added to the active roster on Tuesday, and right-hander Alex Mills was recalled from Triple-A Iowa as part of the roster moves.
Montgomery is perhaps best remembered in Chicago for recording the final out of the 2016 World Series, ending the franchise’s 108-year championship drought.
Contreras left Saturday’s game against the Pirates and missed the past two games, including Monday’s 6-3 loss to the Reds. Cubs president Theo Epstein said following the game that after the MRI revealed the foot strain, the team’s medical staff felt Contreras could risk exacerbating the injury and make it a longer-term issue if he tried to play.
“We have to get ahead of it, take it out of Willy’s hands and get him off his feet,” Epstein said. “We don’t expect it to be longer than the 10 days -- that’s what we hope for, anyway.”
Maldonado, 32, has played all or parts of the past nine seasons with the Brewers (2011-16), Angels (2017-18), Astros (2018) and Royals (2019). He won a Gold Glove in 2017 with the Angels and has registered a 37.3 percent success rate in throwing out baserunners, the best of any catcher in all of baseball starting in 2011 (with a minimum of 600 games played).
He is a career .220 hitter, with 57 home runs and 210 RBIs.
Epstein said that the Cubs had been in discussions with the Royals and were working on a version of the trade they made on Monday, but they finalized it when they learned Contreras would miss time.
“[Maldonado] is an established catcher in this league who does a lot of great things behind the plate,” Epstein said. “He can really receive, he can really throw, he’s caught playoff games, he’s handled some of the best pitchers in the game, he’s a favorite for pitchers to throw to, he’s very calm back there. He’s very prepared, he calls a great game.”
Montgomery went 14-17 with three saves and a 3.74 ERA in 119 regular-season appearances with the Cubs since being acquired from the Mariners near the 2016 Trade Deadline. He went 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA this season in 20 relief appearances.
He is expected to join the Royals’ starting rotation and said he has been told he will make his first start for his new team on Friday.
“It’s bittersweet, for sure,” Montgomery said. “I’m excited for the opportunity. Obviously, [I wish] things would have been a little differently for me this year, but I look back and it’s definitely an emotional thing to think about the last 3 1/2, four years here … I kind of grew up a lot here.
“This game is a business, and it’s just how it works sometimes.”