The Arizona Diamondbacks, trying to create payroll flexibility, are willing to trade catcher Miguel Montero, according to major-league sources.
Rival clubs say the D-Backs are shopping Montero. An Arizona official say the team is more in "listening mode." Either way, the effect is the same.
The D-Backs would move Montero for the right offer, even though they lack an internal replacement and would need to acquire a catcher either through free agency or trade.
Stryker Trahan, the D-Backs’ No. 1 pick out of Lafayette (La.) H.S. in 2012, has yet to play above Class A. Pete O’Brien, acquired from the Yankees last summer for Martin Prado, is a major power prospect, but raw defensively.
Montero, 31, is owed $40 million over the next three seasons. And though his offense declined in 2013 and ’14, he still could be a realistic alternative for teams that strike out on free-agent catcher Russell Martin, particularly if the D-Backs help pay down his remaining obligation.
The D-Backs want to upgrade their starting pitching, but team president Derrick Hall told the Arizona Republic in September that the team’s payroll is expected to drop from an Opening Day figure of about $112 million last season to the $100 million range in 2015.
The club already has $68.65 million in commitments for ’15, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts â and that sum does not include raises in arbitration for left-hander Wade Miley, closer Addison Reed, outfielder Mark Trumbo and infielder Cliff Pennington.
Montero batted .243 last season with a .699 OPS, 13 home runs and 72 RBIs. He caught more innings than all but the Royals’ Salvador Perez and Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy, and over the past four seasons leads all catchers in games played at the position.
Teams interested in Montero could view that accumulation as a warning sign, fearing he might wear down. Or perhaps teams would view Montero as a player who might benefit from additional rest now that he is in his 30s.
Defensively, Montero led all catchers last season in the increasingly valued art of pitch framing, according to Statcorner.com. He also threw out 24.8 percent of opposing base stealers, 14th among the 28 qualifying catchers.
The D-Backs, even if they do not move Montero, could be active traders this offseason. They continue to draw interest in their young middle infielders, Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius. Left-hander Wade Miley and center fielder A.J. Pollock also are popular trade targets, but the team is not interested in moving either, sources say.