Catcher Miguel Montero went from the first Cubs championship in 108 years to last place in the American League East when he was traded Monday to the Toronto Blue Jays with cash for a player to be named or cash considerations.
The Cubs designated Montero for assignment Wednesday after he made comments to the media critical of teammate Jake Arrieta. The trade assured he wouldn’t land with a rival and saved the Cubs a small fraction of the $7 million left on his contract. Had the Cubs allowed him to clear waivers, he would have been free to sign with any team.
The Blue Jays are picking up just ‘‘a bit more’’ than the required prorated major-league minimum salary, major-league sources said.
Montero, whose contract runs through this season, blamed Arrieta’s slow delivery to the plate last Tuesday for the seven bases the Washington Nationals stole in the first four innings of the Cubs’ 6-1 loss.
‘‘It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time,’’ Montero said after the game. ‘‘Simple as that.’’
It was the second time in less than eight months that team officials were chapped at public comments made by Montero. On the day of the Cubs’ parade to celebrate their historic World Series championship, Montero criticized manager Joe Maddon for lack of communication and playing time during a radio interview.
Montero’s timing in the latest case might have been just as poor. Even after Montero apologized to Arrieta and Arrieta said Montero’s comments weren’t wrong — ‘‘I didn’t do him any favors,’’ he said — Cubs president Theo Epstein quickly decided to cut ties with Montero.
Epstein, who called it ‘‘an example of somebody being a bad teammate publicly,’’ acknowledged he might not have taken such swift, severe action if the Cubs were not underachieving this season or if Montero wasn’t a backup.
Montero was a mentor to several young players and wasn’t afraid to say something if he sensed bad habits or the wrong tone being set in the clubhouse. As much as anything, he has tended to be candid, if not blunt, when asked his opinion.
‘‘Miggy wears his heart on his sleeve, and that’s one of the main reasons we all liked him,’’ Arrieta said.
Case in point: Montero didn’t hide from his comments, even after being designated for assignment.
‘‘Sometimes people can’t handle the truth,’’ he told the Sun-Times, taking responsibility for what he said. ‘‘I was being honest, and they know I’m right. I didn’t mean to throw anybody under the bus, which I wasn’t doing. I didn’t want it to be seen that way. It’s just that it was frustrating for me, too.’’
After the trade Montero sent out a series of three tweets, in which he said he’s ‘‘super proud’’ to be a part of the Blue Jays’ organization.
Montero and the Jays visit Wrigley Field on Aug. 18-20.
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