The Jesus Montero era in Seattle appears to be over as the Mariners placed the former top prospect on waivers today, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Bob Dutton of the News Tribune reported that Montero was seemingly placed on waivers earlier in the day, but the team was non-committal about his status.
Greg Johns of MLB.com confirmed that the Mariners will officially announce the move once the 48-hour waiver period passes tomorrow.
Mariners’ manager Scott Servais said that Montero was “spending a day with his family” on Sunday. However, when Korean slugger and first baseman Dae-ho Lee was added to the 40-man roster, Montero’s future with the team was cast with uncertainty. The Mariners have also been impressed with Lee’s demeanor in the batter’s box this spring.
“Dae-Ho has the history of hitting left-handers,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said to the News Tribune. “I think he’s given us reason to believe in spring training. He’s very prepared. He’s very calm in the batter’s box. I think he’s gotten better every step of the way. It’s been a pleasant surprise with the defense and, particularly, the base-running. He runs the bases really smart. His defense has been much better than we anticipated.”
Still just 26-years-old, Montero will likely try to recapture his past form with another team. Originally acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for Michael Pineda, Montero has failed to build on the tools that once made him the Yankees’ top prospect for several seasons.
The Yankees called up Montero in late 2011 and during his 18-game Bronx cameo, he dominated the month of September. All told, Montero hit.328 with four HR and 12 RBI. However, the Yankees’ depth at catcher allowed them to dangle Montero in trades as the team looked to acquire a frontline pitcher — especially after Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
During his four-year stint with the Mariners, Montero has hit.247 with 24 HR and 92 RBI in just 208 total games. In the beginning of Montero’s career, the biggest concern was that he was an offensive-minded player without a true position. In recent years, his dedication to staying in shape and attitude have become issues.
In 2014, Montero showed up to Mariners camp 40 pounds overweight, telling Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that once the winter ball season ended, “all I did was eat.” Then-Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said that he “zero expectations” about Montero, as the right-handed hitter spent most of that season in the minor leagues.
Late in that season, an incident between Montero and instructor Butch Baccala put his job security at stake. Baccala reportedly had somebody bring an ice cream sandwich to Montero; in reference to his weight issues. Montero did not like that and allegedly found Baccala in the stands and cursed him out. The Mariners suspended Montero for the remainder of 2014 season.
Montero reportedly improved defensively at first base last season but spent most of the year in the minors. He played in just 38 games for the Mariners, hitting a mere.223 with five HR and 19 RBI. After a busy offseason in which the Mariners revamped the entire team, Montero fell on the team’s depth chart.
In 21 games (38 at-bats) this spring, Montero hit just.237 with four RBI. Considering Montero’s age, he figures to generate a decent amount of interest around the league.
[Featured Photo by Otto Greule, Jr./Getty Images]