At the time, the off-season additions of Miguel Montero and David Ross at the catcher position appeared to signal the end of Welington Castillo‘s time as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Castillo had been the Cubs’ starting catcher for the past two seasons, but his struggles defensively and inability to reach his offensive potential allowed the Cubs to look in another direction this off-season.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Castillo is in fact going to make the Cubs’ opening day roster, as the team will carry three catchers to start the season. With bench spots a premium, this is a rarity for a National League team, but the Cubs’ position versatility across the board allows them to make such a move.
More from Chicago Cubs News
- Cubs need to walk the walk this winter after talking the talk
- Alec Mills shocked Cubs fans, baseball world with 2020 no-hitter
- Cubs: After season of adjustments, Seiya Suzuki primed for monster 2023
- Projecting the 2023 Cubs Opening Day lineup
- Cubs: 2022 season a ‘success,’ according to Tom Ricketts
Trade rumors surrounding Castillo have surfaced ever since the Cubs acquired Montero and Ross. As a player with offensive upside with big league experience at a premium position, the Cubs have a value on Castillo. While they would certainly remain open to trading him, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are not going to give him away for less than what he is worth.
With Castillo being out of minor league options, putting him on the major league roster to bide some time for a more beneficial trade was the Cubs’ only option.
Montero is expected to be the Cubs’ starting catcher on most days. He is a great veteran presence for the team who has strong defensive skills, and is a solid left-handed bat for the middle of the line-up. Ross is expected to be Montero’s main backup.
With his incredible veteran leadership and impressive defensive abilities, Ross is a strong backup catcher for the Cubs.
With Montero and Ross on the roster, Castillo may have a tough time finding some playing time. That being said, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon is very creative at getting everybody playing time, and he is the perfect guy to have control of this odd situation of having three catchers.
In fact, Maddon seems to be highly in favor of the Cubs carrying three catchers for as long as possible. Epstein recently told ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers, “Joe is the one pounding the table for three catchers. He wants it more than anybody.”
As I mentioned before, the Cubs’ versatility in the field could allow this to be a very successful move. Arismendy Alcantara can play almost anywhere on the field, Mike Olt has experience at both corner infield and corner outfield, Tommy La Stella has shown the ability to handle both second and third base and most of the Cubs’ outfielders have successfully played all across the outfield.
Carrying three catchers on the roster could allow Maddon to get creative in late pinch-hitting situations. Typically it is tough to pinch-hit for your catcher because it forces your second catcher in the game. If that guy happens to get hurt, craziness could quickly ensue.
With Montero, Ross and Castillo all at his disposal, Maddon will not have to worry about those scenarios. If Ross (a typically weak offensive player) comes to the plate in a key situation, Maddon will be able to freely pinch hit for him, without worrying about potentially disastrous results in case of an injury.
While this is certainly a rare situation, the Cubs seem to be in a good place to carry three catchers for a while. That being said, it is unlikely that they will be able to do so for very long.
Eventually, they are going to have to make a decision on one of these guys (probably Castillo) to open up the roster a bit.
Ideally, Castillo builds on his strong Spring Training and produces when he is called upon in the early season. This could open up his trade market, allowing the Cubs to get the proper value.
For now, the Cubs are perfectly situated to allow this to be positive.