Miguel Montero has been in the Major League Baseball headlines recently. Last week he criticized starting pitcher Jake Arrieta after the Washington Nationals stole seven bases against the Chicago Cubs with Arrieta on the mound. A back catcher takes a lot of heat for too many stolen bases and maybe that's what was on Montero's mind when he said that the Cubs' pitchers don't hold runners on good enough. However, his statements could certainly be viewed as an attempt to deflect attention away from his throwing arm failures this season.

Montero was reassigned and then traded

Regardless of whether Montero had some insight or not regarding Arrieta's culpability in the stolen bases, the backlash was immense against the catcher in Chicago.

He was reassigned immediately following the comments and now he has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays also got some cash in the deal which, reportedly, "will pay some, or all, of the $7-million remaining on Montero’s contract that expires this year" (Richard Griffin/thestar.com/July 3rd). That factor is an important one as it mitigates the risk with the move. The Jays got something for little as the Cubs simply wanted to offload their catcher.

But there is still a question of what is going on in the back catching position in Toronto. On that matter, it's necessary to look at what Russell Martin has done this season for the Jays as their everyday catcher. Martin has a .736 OPS on the 2017 campaign, a production that is acceptable out of the back catching position.

However, he was not effective as a hitter in June with an OPS of just .690 for that month. He did have some injury issues back in May (neck and shoulder problems) so it has not been smooth sailing for him. The Jays overall are a team that charged into last month, but then had a bad June. They finished Monday, July 3rd losers of five straight and eight games below .500 as the last-placed team in the AL East.

Montero's bat was bigger with Chicago than Russell's has been with Toronto so far this season. Montero entered Sunday with a .805 OPS in 98 at bats, good production for a position where defense is the first consideration. On that matter, Montero has not been awesome as a defensive catcher at all. No less than 31 stolen bases were nabbed with him behind the plate for Chicago and Montero has thrown out just one runner all season for an egregious stolen-base percentage of .969.

But then, Martin isn't exactly playing well behind the plate from that point of view either. He's had 34 bases stolen off of him with just 6 throw outs.

So what are the Jays going to do now? Luke Maile got the start as catcher on Monday against the Yankees. Entering the game his OPS on the season was just .336, certainly nowhere near good enough to stay in the big leagues. That's true even though he has kept baserunners honest this season, throwing out a third of the attempts against him. The National Post had a Monday article where they stated that "presumably Montero will replace Luke Maile as...Russell Martin’s backup" (no author listed). Another scenario might see Martin get the heave-ho or maybe change positions.

But trading Martin is no simple matter. He is paid $20M per year at this point in his contract and that's a tough salary to pay without a major production. Certainly, Montero entering the picture should spawn some trade rumors at or near the deadline which is the end of this month. What that would look like is conjecture, but with the Cubs giving Toronto enough cash to pay Montero's salary the Jays could offload Martin in a similar way, although he does have two more years on top of 2017 remaining.

In another scenario, the Jays could take advantage of Martin's diversity as a fielder. He does not have to play catcher and could fill in for an infield position. He does have games in his history at second base and third base.

If the Jays shop him around and don't find anything for him, then don't be surprised if Martin ends up as a non-catcher infielder.

Jays' playoffs hopes threatened

Perhaps a lot of what the Jays will do will be determined in the weeks ahead. If they can get into the Wild Card picture before the deadline maybe Martin could be traded for some help. Otherwise, maybe he could be traded for something that will help in the future. The contract is a hefty one to send to another team so the Jays will probably have to take a bite out of the salary or give up a genuine asset. That could mean waving a white flag on this current season. The weeks ahead will certainly be telling with Toronto, a team that has made the playoffs two years running.

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