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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.

The Red Sox to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox plan to activate Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they’re making to make room for him on the roster is a big one too: they plan to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported the impending transaction. He was told by a major league source that Ramirez was informed this morning he’ll be moved off the roster. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however, and long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.