Chicago Cubs have other focuses outside of Shohei Ohtani
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs don’t need a flashy backup to Contreras
We’ve pounded this topic into the ground in the first month-plus of the offseason. I kicked around the idea of handing the backup role to Victor Caratini or bringing back Alex Avila. Another lower-cost free agent with experience handling this staff? Rene Rivera, who is also a free agent.
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Now, sure. A backup catcher isn’t the sexiest move you’ll make in an offseason. I understand that. For most of last year, Willson Contreras carried the Cubs offense, playing in a career-high 117 games while putting up an .855 OPS and hitting 21 homers. But when he went down with an injury, the importance of a quality backup option loomed large.
Rivera tore the cover off the ball in a Cubs uniform (.999 OPS in 20 games). You absolutely cannot expect that again in 2018. But he’s still a quality receiver behind the dish and should be one of the more affordable options out there this winter.
Avila spoke to MLB Network Radio recently, making clear that winning is the priority – not a starting role. With that in mind, Epstein might opt to bring him back to shore things up behind the dish.
Either would be a fine addition, but it sure seems like this will be a secondary priority to adding impact arms to the pitching staff. Nonetheless, don’t underestimate the impact of under-the-radar moves like these.