Washington Nationals: Miguel Montero earns roster spot
By Ron Juckett
The Washington Nationals chose Matt Wieters backup. A look at how catcher Miguel Montero beat Pedro Severino for the job.
The Washington Nationals settled on Miguel Montero as their backup catcher to start 2018. Pedro Severino was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse to resurrect what is left of his career.
Montero, who played under Dave Martinez with the Chicago Cubs, has not had a great spring. In 14 games, he carried a slash line of .207/.333/.345 with a double and a home run. He walked and struck out four times. Not terrible, but on the back end of acceptable.
Which is more than we can say for Severino.
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In his second consecutive attempt to battle his way on the major-league roster, Severino underwhelmed. Over his 15 games, he slashed .111/.226/.111 with three singles and four walks. Although he walked more than striking out, four to three, he had the chance to make an impression.
He made the wrong one.
Yes, Severino has an option year left. He can make the trip between Syracuse and DC with Washington losing control. But, Montero was a non-roster invitee on a minor-league deal. Expectations for him were low.
For Montero his job is this, do not be an automatic out during the two-to-three games played during the week. Do a better job throwing out baserunners trying to steal. And, keep your mouth closed when unhappy.
Underneath last season’s bluster of getting released by the Cubs on their regular season trip to Washington, Martinez knows the positives of Montero. With Chicago, he went from the starter to the backup as Willson Contreras grew into the top role.
Montero was hitting .286 at the time of his release but crashed with the Toronto Blue Jays after they signed him. In Canada, he hit .138 with an OPS+ of 30. Ouch.
His biggest problem, however, is throwing runners out. Last year, he threw out eight percent. Stealers were 58 for 63 against him. In 2016, the number jumped to 11 percent down from the 20 percent his first year on the North Side in 2015.
Never good to drop from 20 to eight.
Which brings us back to Severino.
After another disappointing spring, can he bounce back in Syracuse to win a roster spot in Washington? An injury cut last year short. But, Montero’s contract is cheap. If he plays badly, it is cuttable.
As with Michael Taylor last year, Severino is running out of chances to play in Washington. The Nats will look to improve if needed in July. If they trade or sign a free agent catcher, instead of promoting Severino, then his long-term chances in DC are bleak.
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