Jesus Montero was included among the Yankees cuts yesterday, with the 21-year-old stud catching prospect being optioned to Triple-A.
For some reason there are mainstream media members who should know better acting as if his not making the team out of spring training is an indictment of Montero’s long-term upside or a change of plans by the Yankees, but it seems highly unlikely that general manager Brian Cashman and company ever planned on putting an elite 21-year-old prospect in a backup role that may lead to just a couple starts per week.
For one thing he needs to be playing every day wherever he is and for another thing Montero’s defense behind the plate gets mixed reviews at best. Giving him an extended look in spring training before sending him to Triple-A is exactly what everyone should have expected to happen.
In addition to Montero being assigned to Triple-A fellow top catching prospect Austin Romine was assigned to Double-A, leaving Gustavo Molina as the backup to starter Russell Martin (with Jorge Posada around as an emergency option). Molina is replacement-level at best, so the Yankees will likely be scouring the waiver wire for a better option before Opening Day.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”
Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are close to acquiring pitcher Vidal Nuno from the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Ryan Moseley.
Nuno, 29, went to the Dodgers from the Mariners in the Carlos Ruiz trade this past November. He and the Dodgers avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $1.125 million salary for the 2017 season. The left-hander finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.53 ERA and a 51/11 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings spanning one start and 54 relief appearances.
Nuno will provide the Orioles starting pitching depth and could serve as a valuable left-handed option out of the bullpen.
Moseley, 22, played his first season of professional baseball in the New York Penn League last year. In 12 relief appearances, he put up a 3.20 ERA and an 18/9 K/BB ratio across 19 2/3 innings. The Orioles selected him in the eighth round of the 2016 draft.