The Jesus Montero Eligibility Debate

We interrupt the 2012 Catcher Keeper Rankings to answer a question from one of our readers, Buck Turgidson, who asked,  “Will Jesus Montero be eligible at catcher to start next season?

Plenty of people are wondering whether or not they will get to use the New York Yankees hitting phenom at the position he played in the minor leagues or if his late season call-up that saw him DH for 14 games and work behind the plate for just 3 will lock him in as a designated hitter.  For the most part, those using ESPN and Yahoo as their fantasy site will be forced to begin the season with Montero as a DH and have to wait until he logs enough games behind the dish to qualify.  Those using other sites, such as CBS Sports, may have a little more flexibility depending on their Commissioner capabilities.  Personally, I think ESPN and Yahoo need to loosen the reins a little and allow for exceptions such as this.  I don’t see anything wrong with Montero beginning the season as a catcher and even set up something specific in the rules for just such an example.

How many times have we seen a situation where a guy moves to a different position in the offseason and it becomes apparent that he is going to be a better play over there.  Why can’t you draft him there?  Subpar season aside, wouldn’t it have been better for you to begin the year drafting Kevin Youkilis as a third baseman?  How about Michael Young throughout the last few years?  He’s been moved all around the infield to make room for other players.  There are a number of examples each year when a team and its manager have said that a guy will move positions for the season yet we’re still handcuffed by certain eligibility requirements.

In the keeper league that I commission, I have a stipulation to the eligibility rules that states:

“If you can supply documented evidence that a team is going to use a player regularly at a given position in the upcoming season ( reports Yankees manager Joe Torre announced that Alex Rodriguez will be playing third base this season), then that position may be added to said player’s existing eligibility (Alex Rodriguez qualifies at 3B and SS) and he may be drafted as such.”

Plain and simple.  Show me the proof that a player will play a certain position and you can have him there.  Sure, there are going to be some decisions made by the Commissioner such as what is considered sufficient documented evidence, but this stipulation has been in the league rules for a number of years and there has never been an issue.  A few inquiries that have been met with disappointment?  Sure.  But if your league establishes the boundaries between legitimate news sources and hometown blogger speculation, then it runs very well.

To me, Jesus Montero is a catcher.  So what if he only got 3 games in during his short call-up in a playoff run, big deal.  That’s what he was in the minors and the Yankees have spoken at great length about him staying at the position and likely catching a game or two a week to spell Russel Martin.  That easily puts him on pace to surpass most league eligibility requirements and he will qualify in my league as such on Draft Day.  I don’t see why others shouldn’t follow suit.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

14 Responses to “The Jesus Montero Eligibility Debate”

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  1. Jonathan says:

    I agree. To piggyback that point, my dynasty league has an eligibility rule for prospects that indicates if they have played a position in the minor leagues for 10 games either the same season or season before, they maintain said eligibility for that year in MLB.

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  2. Atari says:

    I disagree.

    Right now I haven’t seen anything to indicate that he will primarily be a catcher. It seems to me that he should start off with a Util designation and the people who draft him should just be patient enough for him to gain catcher eligibility. What if he plays through the year and doesn’t end up qualifying at catcher? It just seems too presumptious to me. I am not saying you cant draft him or roster him, you just shouldn’t be allowing him catcher eligibility just yet. I would say the same about Ryan Lavarnway.

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    • The A Team says:

      Lavarnway spent time at catcher in 8 of 17 games. I’d be strongly inclined to grant him eligibility.

      Montero played 3 of 18 games at catcher. That leaves a lot of room for debate.

      Personally, I always defer to the default values of the service I am using. I’ve only ever commissioned leagues in Yahoo! which does not allow editing in any case.

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  3. Tom B says:

    It’s great that CBS gives you that option, it’s a shame the rest of their service is so god awful.

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  4. JoeCool says:

    Since the Yankees wouldn’t let him catch, does that mean he should be eligible to catch?

    I think the best way to look at it is that he’s almost a catcher, but not quite.

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  5. Luke says:

    I think Y! should change their standard to 5 games played or 3 games started. I remember sitting on OF Jason Bourgeois all summer this season waiting for him to get just one more start at 2nd (he had 3 or 4) and then he got hurt and never got another chance to play second. Three games started to me proves a player is capable of manning that position in real life and should therefore be capable of manning it in fantasy games as well.

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    • 1game shy says:

      of 3B eligibility, “The Albert Pujols Story”.

      Painfully close. As if LaRussa wasn’t irritating enough already.

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  6. ray says:

    I agree, Howard. Montero is a catcher.

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  7. Geoff Buchan says:

    My leagues assign eligibility based on where we suspect the player will play in the upcoming season (as determined in advance by the commissioner). So we’ll likely call Montero a catcher.

    Shameless commercial comment: if you want to customize position eligibility for your league, take a look at The site lets you override position qualification for any player, and/or you can set qualification based on playing in an arbitrary number of games in either the current or previous year at a position.

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  8. Sean says:

    I think the Yahoo rules are fine and would prefer if ESPN adopted them.

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  9. buck turgidson says:

    Hey, nice work Howard. Best answer to a question I’ve ever got!

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  10. buck turgidson says:

    I am mildly annoyed by the way Yahoo handles eligibility. We have these instances where it seems that the hard and fast rule is adhered to no matter how little sense it makes. And then we have the case of Matt Moore, who was a starting pitcher in the minors all season, but somehow because the Rays announced that he would be used as a reliever (or somesuch reason) he was introduced by Yahoo as an RP only. And I am assuming based on Yahoo’s hard and fast rules that we will have to draft him as an RP in 2012. WTF Yahoo?

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  11. mike says:

    Leagues that don’t allow C eligibility for Montero this year are basically punishing him for coming up and actually starting 3 games at C because if Montero were coming up to start the season having never played, Yahoo would give him C eligibility. I have him. I will be pissed if he is not C eligible as it hurts to use him as my u man.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Agreed. Hopefully though, the Mariners get him enough games behind the plate early on for him to gain the eligibility in leagues that don’t allow him to start off as a catcher. I mean….how much worse could his defense be than Olivo’s if he’s been working at it for a few years now…?

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