The Time Has Come

In the next 100 hours, the Yankees need to decide the future of Jesus Montero. They have three choices they can select.

1- Trade him out of the organization. If the Yankees have the chance to acquire an impact arm for the rotation, I would include Montero in that trade package. When your two of your top three starters are Garcia and Colon, you can’t feel great about your starting rotation. Yes, trading Montero would hurt, but if the Yankees could get use him in a package to get a good young pitcher (Gio Gonzalez?) then they have to pull the trigger.

2- Promote him to the majors. We keep hearing that Montero may or may not be defensively adequate to catch in the majors. These questions will hang over him until he actually heads to the bigs and demonstrates what he can do. The Yankees current backup, Cervelli, has been awful defensively (9% caught stealing and 5 errors in 210 innings) while “contributing” a line of .228/.295/.291 with the bat. The Yankees have no reason to accept that from Cervelli when Montero could do better. It is worth noting, Montero’s bat is hot right now (.315/.390/.615 in July) And, Russell Martin has completely stopped hitting (.963 OPS in April, .680 in May, .515 in June and .551 in July). The Yankees can offer him arbitration in 2012, but will they really want to? Not if Montero can prove capable in the bigs at catcher.

3- Change his position. Now that Montero’s bat is showing once again that it is ready for the bigs, the Yankees should figure out a way to use it. If they don’t think he can stick at catcher and they won’t promote him to the majors, they should find a new position for him where he could help them down the road. He could play that position in the minors for the remainder of 2011 and perhaps start there in 2012 as well with a midseason promotion to the bigs. (Remember, he is still only 21). Rightfield makes the most sense organizationally as the Yankees have an option on Nick Swisher for 2012 and then he becomes a free agent. Swisher turned around his season and has been very good overall as a Yankee, but he will be 32 when he becomes a free agent and I would bet he will try to get something like the deal Jayson Werth just signed. The Yankees could easily walk away from Swisher after 2012 and take their draft picks if Montero proves to be a capable rightfielder.

Whatever the Yankees do over the next 100 hours, I hope they don’t keep the status quo. If a trade doesn’t make sense, promote Montero or change his position. Keeping him in the minors for the rest of 2011 makes little sense for the future.