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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.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.