Carlos Santana and Jesus Montero were catchers once upon a time. Not particularly great catchers (in Montero’s case a pretty lousy one). But they could hit. Well, both hit in the minors and Santana has hit everywhere. Montero is something of a dumpster fire at the moment.
Either way, neither of them will be catching much going forward. Santana is slated to the Indians’ third baseman after playing third in winter ball. He’s doing that to make room for Yan Gomes, who wow’d ’em in 88 games last season. Terry Francona would love to get his bat in the lineup.
Montero is a different case. He’s moving to first base mostly to keep himself out of harm’s way. He’d likely be fourth on the depth chart at first base behind Justin Smoak, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, but it’s probably too early to give up on his bat just yet and he has to play someplace. Ultimately he’s a DH at best. Smart money has him washing out if he doesn’t hit this season.
But no matter where the two of these guys are going to end up, they’re going to start spring training wearing the tools of ignorance, reports Paul Hoynes and Greg Johns, respectively. Partially because their managers don’t want them to completely lose their catching chops, but also because in the first week or two of spring training you need all the catchers you can get.
I give Santana a good chance of sticking at third. I give Montero little chance of anything. But it’ll be interesting to see the conversions.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.