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Trade Watch 2011: Jesus Montero

With it probably a question of when instead of if the Yankees are going to make a deal for a starting pitcher, we are going to try to keep a close eye on all possibilities until they make a big deal. So, with the Weather Channel fresh in our head, let's continue Trade Watch 2011.

The Bait: The top prospect that GM Brian Cashman seems most willing to give up is Jesus Montero. It is not that Cashman wantsto trade Montero, it is that he will do it to bring in a top starter. He already included him in failed deals for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

The Dilemma:A scout who has watched Montero this spring noted Montero's penchant for getting crossed up. This is not something Joe Girardi mentions in his post-game press conferences. Girardi has focused on the fact that Montero is better defensively than he was last year at this time. That doesn't mean that Montero is a major-league catcher yet.

With Francisco Cervelli hurt, the question is: Do the Yankees have Montero play once or twice a week just to get a feel for the majors before Cervelli comes back? For all the talk about the backup job, if Russell Martin stays healthy, the backup catcher doesn't play frequently.

Thus, Cashman likes the idea of Montero getting a feel for the majors before he is asked to be the man. The problem is if Montero is not ready it could hurt Montero's trade value. Sending him down, could also give off a bad vibe to potentential trade partners.

Bottom line, the Yankees should only have Montero on the team if he is ready. Austin Romine is probably better suited to be a backup catcher right now. The Yankees don't need Montero's bat -- and hasn't hit much in the spring, anyway. But they could decide it is more beneficial long-term if Montero is on the roster so he understands the Bronx-way.

The Bottom Line: The most important skill that Montero has for the Yankees right now is his trade value. Right now, it is very high. The best thing the Yankees can do is keep it that way. The Montero as the backup catcher is a short-term choice, but his long-term value is mor important.

He is the top asset Cashman is willing to trade. The Yankees say his defense has improved. It has, but it is not major-league quality yet and there are questions if it ever will be. The Yankees must keep that in mind because they want teams to desire Montero badly so they can hold him out for the right top-of-the-line starter. So it might be best for Montero to stay more of a mystery at Triple-A. He is only 21.