The Chicago Cubs‘ rapid-fire rebuild continued Tuesday, as they acquired All-Star catcher Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for pitching prospects Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley.

Montero, 31, hit .243/.329/.370 with 13 home runs and 72 RBI last season, his ninth with the Diamondbacks. He was named to his second All-Star team and was one of a select few productive players on Arizona’s MLB-worst 64-98 team.    

The Cubs, who have finished last in the NL Central the last two seasons, have been aggressively compiling assets all winter. They started by hiring manager Joe Maddon from the Tampa Bay Rays and have been wheeling and dealing on the trade market while pursuing top-flight talent in free agency. The Diamondbacks with new management in place have largely gone the opposite route. 

Stripped of their desire to win now, this is a deal that makes a decent amount of sense for Arizona. Montero had a miserable second half, posting a .212/.303/.293 slash line that was eerily similar to his lost 2013 campaign. Signed for three more seasons at $40 million, it’s fair to wonder whether the Diamondbacks are shedding payroll while dealing a declining player.

In Mejia and Godley, they’ve acquired two non-elite prospects who nonetheless have a chance at making the major league squad down the line. Godley was a 10th-round pick out of Tennessee in 2013 and has been working his way through the Chicago minor league system. He’s compiled a 2.74 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 54 relief appearances and is yet to make it out of Single-A.

Listed at 6’3″ and 235 pounds, Godley possesses a solid fastball that usually hovers in the low-90s and can go a little higher in priority situations. He’s struck out 105 batters in 82 minor league innings, including 52 fans in 40 innings at high-A Daytona. Odds are his peak is somewhere around middle relief levels, but it’s possible the right pitching coach can help Godley figure out how to better use his frame.

The real prize—or at least potential prize—for Arizona is Mejia, a 20-year-old Dominican import who is just beginning to scratch his potential. Signed last summer by Chicago following an impressive showing at the International Prospect League All-Star Game, Mejia has been impressive in limited minor league work.

He posted a 2.48 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 12 appearances playing rookie ball in 2014. Listed at 6’7″ and 195 pounds, Mejia was used mainly in relief, finishing games in five of his 12 appearances. The Cubs also used him as a starter twice, though it’s unclear where they saw him fitting long-term.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball recently named Mejia the No. 20 prospect in the Cubs organization, calling him a “terrific breakthrough candidate.” While that may be the case, the excitement regarding Mejia is entirely a projection. He’s not even made his way past rookie ball yet; it’s entirely possible his stuff does not translate as he works his way through the minors.

That being said, the Diamondbacks ridding themselves of Montero’s deal is a no-brainer. The organization is nowhere near competing at this point. Montero will be entering his mid-30s by the time they can reasonably contend—if not out of the organization entirely. Even if they only get two mid-tier relievers out of the deal, they’re selling at the right time.


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