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I don’t know what to make of the Orioles signing Jesus Montero to a minor-league deal. Are they prepping for Mark Trumbo to sign with someone else? Are they trying to lessen the sting of not getting in on Edwin Encarnarcion? Or do they truly see something in the prospect-cum-journeyman that could open some doors offensively. I mean, Montero isn’t really known for his defensive prowess and is, like Trumbo, known to have some pop but (maybe) hasn’t been properly coached on how to harness it. So, let's talk Orioles and see what we can come up with.
Overall, it’s a deal that no Orioles fan should get too excited about, especially while other teams are raking in free agents like it’s going out of style. However, it’s an interesting move—especially since Montero can DH and play 1B and since Montero fits a similar mold to Trumbo (defensive liability at times, potentially offensively potent but untapped, etc.). Should the Orioles not resign Trumbo, will the O’s look directly to Montero to replace that potential pop? Rather, should they look to Montero?
Eh…that’s where things get interesting. Montero, while a similar mold to Trumbo, hasn’t seen the majors since a spell in 2015 with the Mariners. Last season, he got popped for a drug violation as well (so he still owes MLB 50 games before he can do anything with a bat). But, during that 30-plus game spell, he hit .223 with five homers and a smattering of RBIs. Now, contrast that to his minor league numbers.
In the minors, he kind of went Baby Beast Mode. He wasn't The Second Coming or anything, but he was legit. Again, this could just be a case of the Mariners major staff not knowing how to channel his hidden powers (like Trumbo before/during his run). Or, and this is more likely, the Orioles could’ve just signed him for depth and they’re praying they can sign someone like Trumbo, Chris Carter, or swing a trade for—oh, I don’t know—Todd Frazier or something like that.
Look, the O’s need all-around players. They’ll be fine whether they resign Trumbo or Jesus Montero becomes the latest former Mariner to start cracking balls out the park (hi Adam Jones). But, overall? The Orioles can’t afford to live and die by the home run anymore. If all that Montero brings to the plate—literally—is his iffy ability to knock balls out the park, I say keep him in the minors and bring him up to spell with Beef and/or Caleb Joseph.
This brings me to another point: if the Orioles fail to resign Trumbo, what should their contingency plan be? Well, to be honest? They’ll be fine, as I mentioned, because of the power that’s already there. Slot Mancini and ‘em in at DH, see what they can do. If they (read: mainly Mancini) aren’t up to par, let him marinate a bit more in AAA (because he’s going to go places in Baltimore, even if it isn’t this year). If he rocks, awesome sauce. We just replaced a somewhat one-dimensional homer machine with someone who can do that and then some. But, if Trumbo’s resigned, will I accept him back with open arms? Oh yeah.
But, again, the O’s cannot continue to just rely on the long ball. So, if Montero or Trumbo or anyone (for that matter) can't provide more than just the homer, it may be time to look elsewhere. Do I know where exactly? Ehhhh...not really. Again, I'm just a guy who loves baseball. I don't cover it for a living, nor do I work in the field. But, I do know it may be time to look elsewhere. Besides, Montero already has a couple of strikes against him (read: two drug violations, a wishy-washy bat, meh defense, etc.) so...it may not be smart to put all of your faith in him, regardless of whether the O's unlock him or not.