When the Seattle Mariners traded for Jesus Montero from the New York Yankees, the hope was that he would add some pop to the lineup and develop into a serviceable defensive catcher for the team. When Michael Pineda, the player Seattle traded away for Montero, was shelved with arm issues, Seattle fans thought they had pulled off the heist of the century. While Montero’s offensive numbers weren’t great, at least he was producing and the team had high hopes that he would continue to improve. But as the team prepares to open the 2014 season, is Montero becoming a colossal disappointment?
Since coming to Seattle, Montero has batted just .251 with an on-base percentage of .293 and a slugging percentage of just .376 while never developing into a sturdy backstop defensively. The team tried moving him between catcher, first base and designated hitter, but struggled to find consistent at-bats for him as the DH spot became crowded with more productive options and ended up demoting him to Class AAA Tacoma. He ultimately appeared in just 29 games for the Mariners last season, suffered a knee injury shortly after arriving in Tacoma and then finished the year on a 50-game suspension from MLB for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal.
All in all, Montero has plenty to prove coming into Spring Training. He started things off when camp opened with an apology for the suspension last season, which was good, but somehow had done nothing but gain weight over the winter, which is bad. He admitted that he “gained a lot of weight in my country” where he was playing winter ball and now has to focus on losing that weight this spring in addition to proving that he can contribute something to the team offensively.
It was already going to be tough for him to earn a roster spot with the big league club this spring as the M’s are loaded with first base/DH candidates. Add in that he showed up to camp overweight and he admitted to doing “nothing” after winter ball, except “just eating,” and you have a once-promising player that appears on the fast-track back to Tacoma to start the 2014 season. The 24 year old former catcher still has options and time to turn things around, but he’s going to have to start soon if he hopes to save his career in Seattle.