Cubs To Trade A Catcher?


Even though the non-waiver trade deadline has passed, that does not mean the Chicago Cubs or any  other team for that matter are not able to make any more trades. As we have already stated this week, August marks the beginning of the trade-waiver period where players have to first clear waivers before they are eligible to be traded. The Cubs already have several players on waivers, and should face little to no difficulty in having their players clear waivers. The expectation is that the Cubs will trade Reed Johnson and John Grabow this month, and will hope that they are able to trade Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, and Aramis Ramirez as well. With the exception of Ramirez, none of those players have enough value where they would land the Cubs the pitching prospects that they seek. The Cubs have a lot of catching depth in their farm system, and it is possible that they will look to trade Geovany Soto this month.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago speculates that since the Cubs have a couple of catchers in Wellington Castillo and Steve Clevenger that are on the verge of being major league ready, the team may look to trade Soto this month for a couple of pitching prospects. Levine also mentions Koyie Hill as a trade candidate, but the meat of the article is about the prospects of trading Soto.

Since his rookie of the year campaign in 2008 that saw him hit .285/.364/.504/.868 to go along with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs, Soto has struggled to do much of anything in the three following seasons. Soto saw a bounce back in 2010 from his 2009 season as he hit .280/.393/.497/.890 with 17 home runs before his season was cut short. But it would appear that Soto has regressed once again as the Cubs’ catcher is hitting .242/.329/.408/.737 with 10 home run this season. The Cubs front office has always been concerned about the lack of run production from Soto, and this season is no different. To Soto’s credit, the catcher’s position is by no means an offense position. A catcher makes his keep by calling the game for the pitcher and being one of the defensive leaders on the field. However, Soto has not met those qualifications either. Soto has never been known as a defensive catcher, especially this season, as the the Cubs’ catcher leads all major league catchers with 11 errors. So when Soto is not being a run producer on offense and is clearly not a defensive catcher, he is not giving the Cubs much of anything. That could be one of the main reasons why the Cubs have yet to lock-up Soto to a long term deal.

Couple that with the fact that Castillo and Clevenger could be ready for the major leagues any day now, and you will see that Soto may be more movable than originally thought. Of the two, Clevenger is likely the catcher of the future for the Cubs.

Among teams looking for catching help are the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and Atlanta Braves. The Pirates reportedly expressed interest in Soto in July, so, you would have to imagine that they will monitor Soto’s status this month. Considering the Cubs are seeking pitching prospects, the Pirates would be an ideal trading partner. The Pirates farm system is very pitching-heavy, and with the potential that Soto has, the Cubs should be able to land one if not two of their top level pitching prospects.

Whether or not general manager Jim Hendry is willing or capable of pulling the trigger on a Soto trade is a different story. If he is, it would give the Cubs a chance to not only turn to one of their top catching prospects at the major league level but also add the pitching prospects to a pitching-needy farm system.