National League

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Reportedly signed INF-S Alberto Callaspo to a one-year deal worth $3 million. [12/9]

At first blush Callaspo, who turns 32 in April and belongs on a bench, doesn't seem like a great fit for a transitioning team like the Braves. Yet the pairing makes sense, if for no other reason than because Callaspo's versatility permits John Hart to retool this winter with a safety net in place.

Say Hart doesn't find a take for Chris Johnson. He could plop Callaspo at second base to start the season, and then slide Callaspo to third base or to the bench once Jose Peraza is ready for The Show. Alternatively, if Hart does move Johnson, Callaspo could serve as the team's third baseman, with Phil Gosselin—who, it should be noted, did have an impressive, if misleading run to end last season—serving as a stopgap at the keystone until Peraza arrives. Neither scenario will impress Braves fans, and that's okay; just keep in mind that Callaspo is likely to perform better in 2015 than he did last season.

Callaspo's game is centered around making contact and drawing about as many walks as strikeouts—he hasn't whiffed on more than 10 percent of his swings during any season since 2008, according to our plate discipline statistics. There are downsides to Callaspo's game, too—e.g. he doesn't offer power or speed, and he's a switch-hitter with noticeably more production against lefties than righties over the past three years. Still, the Braves aren't relying upon Callaspo as a multi-year fix; he's only around to fill the gaps until a better option presents itself.

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired C-L Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks in exchange for RHPs Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley. [12/9]

Remember when the Tigers signed Ivan Rodriguez as a statement move? This isn't that. It is, however, the latest sign—joining the Joe Maddon hiring and Jason Hammel signing—that the Cubs' rebuilding process has entered the phases where on-the-field results start to matter.

While Montero, whose contract guarantees him $40 million over the next three seasons, made the All-Star team in July, he's not the hitter he was during his prime. Though still an asset offensively, he has become more limited—perhaps to the point where he requires a right-handed caddy. His .275 True Average with the platoon advantage remains impressive, yet his .220 mark versus lefties befits a platoon player. It's worth noting that Montero's power production has also slipped, as his ISO against righties has declined in three consecutive seasons.

Behind the plate, Montero remains a well rounded defender. Our framing metrics suggest he's one of the better receivers in the game, and our blocking metrics classify him as about average for his career. That Montero has been involved in a fair amount of spats throughout his career speak to his attitude or his intensity, depending on your perspective. Nonetheless, Montero has received credit for his leadership, and it appears the Cubs felt his temperament would work within their clubhouse.

If there is an area where Montero has improved over the last few years, it has to be health. He's made just one trip to the disabled list since an injury-depleted 2010, and that was a four-week stint in '13 caused by a strained back. Otherwise, Montero has topped 550 plate appearances in three of the past four years, and has accumulated nearly 100 more than any other catcher during that span.

Put it all together and Montero profiles as a durable, above-average backstop. Given his term and salary, it's not surprising that the Cubs were willing to swap a high-risk, high-reward teenage arm and a likely middle reliever in exchange for Montero's services. The upshot is that the Cubs should recoup some of that value in the coming weeks, as they shop around Welington Castillo—he's certain to draw interest given his age, cost, and upside, and the paucity of free-agent catchers.

As for what the Cubs do at backup catcher, expect David Ross' name to surface if their pursuit of Jon Lester proves fruitful. Ross—who, in addition to being a friend of Lester's and a highly regarded clubhouse guy, hits lefties well—would make for an ideal veteran complement to Montero.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I like the Montero trade, assuming the Cubs keep Castillo as a platoon partner. Is it unreasonable to keep two mid-level starting catchers on the roster with such pronounced platoon splits?
Agreed. Castillo is still cheap. Unless they can fill a bigger need (good relief arm?) I'd keep him this year...
I'd trade Castillo (probably more valuable to other teams than to the Cubs) and sign David Ross, now that they've brought in Jon Lester.
I don't quite see what the point of this is for Arizona besides a salary dump. And even then, the only catcher on their 40 man roster is Tuffy Gosewisch, so clearly they need to go out and add a catcher, and in a seller's market. Maybe they should be in on Castillo? Or Dioner Navarro.
You answered your own question. Salary dump.
Ridiculous trivia question: Who did Jon Lester strike out to finish his no-hitter in 2008? The very player who does not swing and miss very often, Alberto Callaspo.