(CBS) The Cubs’ decision to designate catcher Miguel Montero for assignment Wednesday was made after president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon had a frank discussion following Montero’s criticism of right-hander Jake Arrieta after a 6-1 loss at the Nationals on Tuesday night.
And the decision boiled down to a simple belief among the group: Montero violated clubhouse protocol in assigning blame to Arrieta for the Nationals stealing seven bases.
“Theo and I and Joe and a number of people talked through those last night,” Hoyer said Wednesday before the Cubs played the Nationals. “We made the decision, factoring in everything, we made the decision that we were going to move on without Miggy. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a ton of respect and appreciation for what he did for us for two-and-a-half years, but ultimately, given where we are as a team, we felt like the things he said were sort of against what we’re trying to accomplish right now. Like I said, it was right to move on without him.
“That means his performance on the field. It means where we are in the standings. All those things. I think that you don’t make any decision in a vacuum, and we factored in everything. In this particular situation, we felt like that was the right thing to do.”
The 33-year-old Montero expressed frustration amid a season in which he’s thrown out just 1-of-32 base-stealers. He blamed Arrieta’s “slow” delivery.
Even before Montero’s outburst, the Cubs had been having internal talks about his inability to control opposing running games. Couple with the off-field drama now, they decided it was best to part ways.
“The throwing issues were something we had been discussing,” Hoyer said. “I think that when a team begins to sort of alter their game plan around that, I think that’s something you have to factor in. You have to be a deterrent to the running game. But yeah, we wouldn’t have made this decision were it not for those comments. That was a big factor. We have to have each other’s back. I think anyone that plays a team sport knows that you don’t deflect blame onto a teammate or teammates after a game. That’s a pretty simple rule of being a good teammates. And obviously that was violated. Right now, through 77 games, we haven’t gotten it going yet. We haven’t come together as a team. We’re fighting as a group to come together, and I think those comments were a detriment to what we’re trying to accomplish now at this point in the season.”
Maddon agreed with the decision to designate Montero for assignment. He emphasized he and Montero were “good” in their relationship but that the Cubs had to do what was best for the clubhouse. Maddon believed Montero’s comments would’ve had an impact in the clubhouse because the Cubs have so many young players who are “impressionable.”
“My reaction was, ‘Wow,'” Maddon said in reference to learning about Montero’s comments late Tuesday.
“We’ve been about being a very tightly knit group. We’ve been very much about supporting one another. And it’s hard to defend those kinds of comments when you’re trying to build that kind of culture.”
Montero unloaded on Arrieta on Tuesday night.
“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. “So it’s just like, ‘Yeah OK, Miggy can’t throw nobody out,’ but my pitcher doesn’t hold anybody on.
“That’s the reason why they were running left and right today because they know he was slow to the plate. Simple as that. It’s a shame that it’s my fault because I didn’t throw anybody out.”
Montero was hitting .286 with four homers and eight RBIs in 44 games this season, one in which Willson Contreras has ascended into the starting catcher role.
In a corresponding move Wednesday, the Cubs are promoting 23-year-old catcher Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa, where he was hitting .343 with .923 OPS.