As the Mets approached Opening Day, Rafael Montero's status was one of the big open-ended questions facing the club. Montero was out of options, meaning that he'd have to pass through waivers if he didn't make the team.
No matter how many rolls of the eyes Montero's name elicits from Mets fans, it's never a good idea in this game to give anything away for free.
Turns out, the Mets won't be faced with that decision.
Unfortunate news for Rafael Montero, who was struggling of late and trying to make the team. Mets say he suffered a complete tear of his right UCL. Felt pain pitching on Tuesday. He likely faces Tommy John surgery.— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) March 22, 2018
Montero was having an abysmal spring (9 innings, 12 hits, nine earned runs, six walks, 10 strikeouts, .316 opposing batting average), and reports started to leak out on Wednesday that he wasn't likely to head north with the team. And with the way Montero was going, another club probably wasn't going to claim him. But you never really know how these things go.
Remember when the Mets DFA'd Justin Turner for no good reason? Not every guy a team cuts bait with is going to turn into an MVP candidate, but it's a good cautionary tale of why try everything you can not to just throw away players for nothing.
This isn't to say that, if healthy, Montero should have made the club. He didn't deserve it in the slightest. But I think the Mets wanted to give every last consideration to their once-heralded prospect before making that call. This injury means that they don't have to.
Eventually, Montero will be placed on the 60-man DL, which will open up a spot for a non-roster player (such as Matt Purke or P.J. Conlon) to make the cut. And while losing a whole season to an injury is never something a player wants to do, this could be an opportunity for Montero to not only get healthy, but figure out where it all went wrong. If he can, the Mets will at least have the opportunity to reap a potential reward.
In the meantime, it's next man up, and it's a golden chance for a surprise performer to make the club.