The Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals agreed to a trade on Monday night, swapping left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery for catcher Martin Maldonado, per the teams. In a related move, the Cubs placed starting backstop Willson Contreras on the injured list because of a strained arch muscle in his right foot. He’s not expected to miss longer than 10 days at this point.
Maldonado, 32, is your prototypical backup catcher. He’s hit just .224/.288/.359 (71 OPS+) on the season, yet he grades as an above-average fielder. He has a strong arm and historically has checked in as a plus framer. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Cubs have been a well-below-average team when it comes to framing this season, meaning Maldonado could help them improve in that respect — albeit potentially at the cost of their offensive potency.
Maldonado will be a free agent at season’s end, and it’s unclear how the Cubs will fit him on the roster once Contreras returns from the shelf. The usual backup, Victor Caratini, does have another option remaining should the Cubs desire to send him to the minors.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is returning to his original organization. The 30-year-old has potentially two more seasons of team control remaining, though he’s struggled in 27 innings this year to the tune of a 79 ERA+ and 1.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Montgomery has been an effective pitcher in recent years — he finished his Cubs career with a 115 ERA+ in more than 300 innings — and this deal could come to represent a win for the Royals if they can help him return to that form.
Montgomery’s Cubs tenure will perhaps be best remembered for the fact he recorded the final out in the 2016 World Series.