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Trading Miguel Montero to the Dodgers

Might moving our increasingly-expensive catcher to a divisional rival, in Los Angeles, be a viable option?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Well, my 'Montero to the Cubs' piece seemed wildly popular, judging by the more than six thousand votes received in the poll. Though how many of those were actually from Diamondbacks fans, it's hard to say, since it looks like the vast bulk of traffic to the piece came through Yahoo. Overall, the poll was 64% in favor of the Montero/Cahill for Jackson deal, but going by the comments in the thread - probably a better barometer of feelings among Arizona supporters! - most didn't see a trade of bad contracts as enough compensation for losing our All-Star catcher. We'll see what the Cubs offer.

LA lure...

Nearer to home, how does the prospect of Miguel Montero in Dodger Blue sound? I'll pause for you to rush to the bathroom, hand over your mouth. But there's no doubt that Los Angeles are severely in need of help behind the plate. Last year, the Dodgers' catchers, mostly the partnership of A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera, combined to be worth 2.7 wins below league average. That was easily the worst in the league, almost an entire win less than the 14th-placed Marlins. It was the only position where Los Angeles were below average: indeed, everywhere else on the infield, they were no lower than third-best.

This was mostly because Ellis et al couldn't hit their way out of an LA apartment. In 2014, the Dodgers' catchers batted just .181, with an OPS of .544 over 635 PAs. That OPS wasn't just the worst at catcher, it was the lowest mark at any position, by any team in the National League. As another yardstick, no single qualifying batter in the major-leagues has had an OPS that bad, since Matt Walbeck posted a figure of .530 for the Twins in the strike-shortened 1994 season. Of course, it didn't particularly hamper the Dodgers run to the division title, which they won by a fairly comfortable six-game margin, and Ellis even hit .538 in the NLDS. But they're certainly looking to upgrade.

Ellis will be in his second year of arbitration, and is estimated to cost $3.8 million. As a right-handed batter, he could form a nice platoon with Montero, in the same way discussed for Welington Castillo and the Cubs. Though here, the purpose would mostly be to keep Montero away from left-handed pitchers, as Ellis's career splits are a good deal more narrow (.686/.720). Montero would also be a big upgrade for the Dodgers in terms of pitch-framing. While not quite as bad as Castillo, Ellis was measured at about 15 runs below average there. So, Montero would likely make the Dodgers significantly better.

California Dreamin'

But $40 million over the next three years better? While we're used to thinking of the Dodgers as being a bottomless pile of money, there are signs of a change in their direction, not least with the arrival of the rather more economical Andrew Friedman as President of Baseball Operations [although even he is getting paid $35 million over five years, plus incentives - in other words, more than the Rays' entire payroll for some of the seasons Friedman was GM]. With 16 players already signed for 2015, the Dodgers are already over $200 million, with a current payroll estimated at almost $223m, and there are indications ownership want to see it going down, not up.

To that end, they would probably want to shed to the likes of Andre Ethier, due $53.5 million over the next three seasons, to clear the logjam in their outfield and leave it as Crawford, Kemp and P**g (and with far-cheaper prospect Joc Pederson waiting in the wings). I think it's safe to say, the Diamondbacks would have no interest at all in taking Ethier's contract on board, considering the point of dealing Montero is to save money, not take on an extra $13.5 million over the next three years.

There's also the psychological aspect. Almost every piece written on the topic by a Dodgers fan brings up Montero's role in the brawl with Los Angeles, where the P**g and Greinke were hit. I don't know how much of an impact that would have on trade negotiations - probably not quite as much as if, say, Montero were going to the Pirates! But if the fans still have a jaundiced view of Miggy, it wouldn't seem much of a stretch to think that certain players might share that opinion.

I tend to think that Montero to the Dodgers won't happen. Not because he wouldn't make them a better team, but for the other reasons listed above. While Los Angeles may well be looking to improve at the position, just about anyone with a pulse would work for that, and there are considerably cheaper options than Montero available on the market. I think that's probably for the best, all round.