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Cubs Find Contreras Insurance In Trade With Royals

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Martin Maldonado (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

With Willson Contreras headed to the injured list because of a foot injury, the Cubs quickly found a reasonable fill-in, acquiring catcher Martin Maldonado from the Royals. Chicago managed to do so while also not adding to payroll, as they shipped veteran lefthander Mike Montgomery to Kansas City in return.

The move is a homecoming of sorts for Montgomery—he was originally drafted by the Royals in the first round in 2008 before being traded to the Rays in the Wil Myers/James Shield trade in 2012.

CUBS ACQUIRE

Martin Maldonado, C
Age: 32

Maldonado has never and likely will never hit. He’s a career .220 hitter who has posted an on-base percentage above .300 only once in the past five seasons. Maldonado will run into a home run every now and then, but his value to a team is as a game-calling, defensive backstop with solid pitch-framing skills. Until Contreras returns, Victor Caratini is the Cubs' catcher with a chance to impact the game at the plate, but Maldonado gives Chicago an experienced veteran who they can feel comfortable writing into the lineup.

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Astros Bring Back Martin Maldonado In Swap With Cubs

Martin Maldonado heads to Houston for a second tour, while the Cubs add much-needed speed in Tony Kemp.

ROYALS ACQUIRE

Mike Montgomery, LHP
Age: 30

In many ways, it seems odd that the Royals would acquire a 30-year-old lefthander who is already arbitration eligible as the return for shipping off another veteran. In large part because this is a team that should be focused several years into the future. Kansas City has no hope of being competitive this year and, realistically, the team is several years away from being competitive again. Montgomery will likely hit free agency in two years before the Royals have a chance to be playoff contenders. But it is possible that the Royals are trying to buy low on a lefty who has been a productive reliever/spot starter until this season.

Montgomery is in the midst of the worst season of his five-year MLB career. His velocity has remained league average for a lefty, but his changeup, long a weapon, has deserted him, and he’s become more home run prone. If Montgomery can rediscover his 2016-2018 form, he could have significantly more value in a trade than he has right now. With a relatively modest arbitration award expected for 2020, the Royals could use him to fill innings in the second half of this season and maybe the first half of next year. If he succeeds in regaining his previous form, they could turn around and trade him for younger talent at next year’s deadline.

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