There’s a floating concept that Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero has become the epitome of the “yeah, we’ll take him, but what else you got?” when he’s mentioned as the centerpiece of any deal for an established player.
“They’re too willing to trade him.”
“He’s not a big league-caliber catcher.”
“He’s got an attitude problem.”
“The Yankees future catcher is Austin Romine, not Montero.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Perception is not reality. The reporters and executives frame the story as they prefer; while they may be true, they’re not often fair or in full context.
The reality with Montero is that he’s a 21-year-old catcher; he’s shown power and patience at every level; he doesn’t strike out a lot; and, based on the numbers, there’s every indication that he’s going to be able to translate those skills to the big leagues.
The idea that he’s not ready to catch in the majors has validity—either he’s ready or he’s not—but that doesn’t automatically mean he’s going to need to be permanently shifted from behind the plate to a corner position. Buster Posey wasn’t deemed ready to catch in the big leagues until mid-season 2010 because of the importance the Giants placed on handling their pitchers; once he was considered “ready”, he was excellent. If Montero can sit behind the plate and catch the ball while not embarrassing himself with his throwing, he can catch in the big leagues.
The attitude can be straightened out if it in fact does exist. He’s 21-years-old; 21-year-olds with the maturity of a Troy Tulowitzki, Derek Jeter or Evan Longoria aren’t as easy to find as it’s made out to be.
Romine might be the better choice for a long-term big league career behind the plate, but Montero is more advanced at the plate. Bear in mind that the Yankees were briefly enamored with Francisco Cervelli—Cervelli doesn’t even belong in the big leagues.
Teams have been reluctant to accept Montero as the main component of a trade because of these beliefs. The preference is for the Yankees young pitchers Manny Banuelos and/or Dellin Betances. But totally disregarding a package starting with Montero appears to be a mistake. Unless there are serious off-field issues we don’t know about, he has great value. He’s going to hit in the majors and a catcher who can function at a bare minimum defensively and hit is hard to come by.