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.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.