The Cubs and the Diamondbacks completed a deal that sends catcher Miguel Montero to Chicago. It is not yet known who the Cubs are sending to Arizona, but from all accounts it is two Single-A minor league pitchers. Also, the Cubs would assume all of the remaining $40 million that Montero is due over the next three years.
It has been no secret that the Cubs were looking to make an upgrade at catcher, and they fell just short of signing free agent Russell Martin earlier in the off-season. The Diamondbacks were looking to trade Montero and a reported earlier deal with the Dodgers for Andre Ethier fell apart. Arizona would not have shed any money in that deal, however.
Montero, 31, has spent the past nine seasons in Arizona. He was an All-Star in 2011 when he hit .282/.351/.469 with 18 home runs in 140 games and followed that up with a 2012 season that was just as good. That year, Montero hit .286/.391/.438 with 15 home runs in 141 games. He was also considered a strong defensive catcher, throwing out 40% of runners trying to steal in 2011 and 42% in 2012.
In the middle of that 2012 season, the Diamondbacks signed Montero to a five-year, $60 million extension. Of course, both Montero's offense and defensive skills began to erode as soon as the new contract started in 2013. This past season, Montero hit .243/.329/.370 with 13 home runs in 136 games. He was still named to the All-Star game in 2014, but that was as an injury replacement for Yadier Molina.
In Montero, the Cubs are getting an aging catcher with eroding skills who is owed a lot of money. So why would they make such a deal? For one, he's probably still better than Welington Castillo, especially defensively. He's considered an excellent handler of a pitching staff. And according to this at least, Montero was the best pitch framer among catchers in the major leagues. Castillo was the second-worst. There have also been several examples in recent years of players improving once they got out of Arizona: Justin Upton, Brandon McCarthy, Tyler Skaggs. Arguably Chris Johnson. The Cubs brain trust may feel that with better health and getting away from Arizona could lead to a rebound for Montero. On top of that, the Cubs seem to felel strongly that their young pitching staff needed a veteran catcher.
Additionally, there just isn't a lot of catching available at the moment. This is why Russell Martin signed for so much money and why the Padres are looking for a major haul for Yasmani Grandal. The Cubs are willing to take a chance on Montero because there were few better options out there and all Montero cost was, for the most part, money.
As far as what the Cubs are giving up, it sounds like it's mostly money. But we will update the information when the names of the two pitchers become available.
EDIT: As many of you have noted in the comments, the two pitchers are Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley. Mejia, 20, is a giant pitcher (6'7" and listed at 195 lbs, but reportedly now much heavier than that) with a nice fastball and a lot of upside. He pitched very well for the Cubs Rookie League team in Arizona last year. Godley is also big (6'3", 235) and has a mid-90s fastball. Between Kane County and Daytona last year, he struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings. But he turns 25 in April and needs to improve his secondary pitches. Both could be quality major league relievers one day, but neither are sure bets by any means.