Jesus Montero

Where will Jesus Montero play for the Mariners?

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Still reeling from that trade last night. Unlike some deals that are rumored for several hours or days, this one sprung from the head of Zeus, fully-formed, in almost no time.  And also unlike so many other deals this didn’t involve a salary dump. The M’s had a stud pitcher and needed a bat. The Yankee had a stud hitting prospect and needed an arm. It was so … simple.

The hardest part of this deal is where to play Jesus Montero when he shows up to camp next month.

Montero has only caught and DH’d in the Yankees system.  And his catching, according to the Yankees and from what people who have seen him play have surmised, is poor. That only leaves a couple of options.

Designated hitter is one. However, one would normally want to avoid putting a young guy like Montero in the DH slot now because once someone DHs they tend to always DH.  The other obvious option is first base.  Except the M’s, however devoid of hitting talent they are, have two servicable options at first in Justin Smoak and Mike Carp. And even if Montero’s future is at first, the M’s are going to want to play Smoak and/or Carp for a while if, for no other reason, than to showcase them for a trade.

Personally, I’d hire the best catching guru I could find to work with Montero and get him into as good as defensive shape as I could and let him catch all year.  If the M’s are not optimistic about his defense, however, or if they’re too tied to Miguel Olivo or whoever, fine, let him DH but think about a future when he can slide to first base.

Either way, this is all a bit of a problem. Although, inasmuch it has been a long time since the Mariners have had a good bat they had to figure out how to fit into the lineup, it’s an admittedly nice problem to have.

Dodgers sign Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million deal

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.

Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.

Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.

UPDATE: Giants agree to a deal with Mark Melancon

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Mark Melancon #43 of the Washington Nationals reacts after the final out as the Nationals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-3 in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.

12:15 PMKen Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.

Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.

The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.

What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.

Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.