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Nationals sign Miguel Montero

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The Washington Nationals have signed catcher Miguel Montero to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Matt Wieters is the starting catcher in Washington, but Montero will compete for the backup job.

The 34-year-old Montero once possessed a pretty useful bat for a catcher, and was selected for a couple of All-Star teams. He hit a meager .216/.310/.346 in 76 games last year between the Cubs and Blue Jays, however and he didn’t make many friends while doing it. Specifically, his tenure with the Cubs ended after he publicly criticized teammate Jake Arrieta for his alleged inability to hold baserunners. He didn’t produce at all once he joined the Jays but he didn’t prove himself to be a toxic clubhouse presence there either, so maybe you can call it improvement.

In other news, the two biggest transactions of the day involved guys who, if everything breaks right, can land a bench job. Settle down hot stove, ya burnin’ me.

Rays acquire C.J. Cron from Angels

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The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.

Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.