Cubs, Diamondbacks discussing Miguel Montero trade

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Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports report that the Cubs and Diamondbacks are discussing a trade that would send catcher Miguel Montero to Chicago. Rosenthal says the two teams have been talking about this possibility for weeks and a “deal appears to be getting closer” — with the Diamondbacks getting pitching prospects in return.

Montero was a National League All-Star in 2011 and signed a big five-year, $60 million contract extension with Arizona in May 2012, but he has registered a disappointing .237/.324/.358 batting line in 1,035 plate appearances over the past two seasons.

The Diamondbacks don’t have an obvious replacement for Montero in the majors or minors, but it’s pretty clear that new chief baseball officer Tony La Russa doesn’t view the 31-year-old as his preferred long-term catcher.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.