Chicago Cubs: Still a plethora of backup catchers available

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 28: Alex Avila
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 28: Alex Avila /

It’s not the most glorious of positions to sign. But for the Chicago Cubs, it might be one of the most valuable.

It’s no secret that this winter has been slow, to put it nicely, for Major League free agents. The bigger names, such as Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, and Jonathan Lucroy have yet to find a home. Part of this could be teams waiting it out for the free agent crop next season, or, this lull could be the new luxury tax that the MLBPA has enacted. However, there is still one group of players, that would come relatively cheap, and it effects the Chicago Cubs…this is a backup catcher.

Willson Contreras has firmly cemented himself as one of the games best catchers already, even without playing a full season in the majors yet. The backup role, however, was a bit of a mess. It started with Miguel Montero. After a game in which the Washington Nationals stole six bases, Montero had some choice words and was promptly released.

Victor Caratini then took over for a few weeks, and he was pretty serviceable in the role. The Cubs then swung a trade for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson, and Avila replaced Caratini. Then, in September, the Cubs picked up Rene Rivera off waivers from the Mets, giving the Cubs three catchers on the roster at the same time. Now that both of them are free agents, the Cubs have options for another backup.

More from Chicago Cubs News


The most logical option is to either re-sign Rivera, Avila, or just roll with Caratini. Rivera is great defensively, posting a 7.6 defensive WAR last season between two teams, and has nine career defensive runs saved behind the plate. Avila, like Rivera, will bring a veteran presence, but it’s a significant drop off defensively.

Avila would be an upgrade offensively over Rivera, so take the good with the bad. Caratini has some experience and could benefit from some more major league experience. What better way to get it than being the 2018 backup?

AJ Ellis

There hasn’t been much connection between the Cubs and A.J. Ellis, but he is a cheap option, who would be a great defensive option back there. Ellis posted a 2.8 defensive WAR with the Marlins last season. Over his career, he only has two defensive runs saved, but if the Cubs are looking for a nice stopgap to give Caratini a little more seasoning, this is the best option.

Next: Options available aside from Harper in 2018.

Jonathan Lucroy

A bit of a reach here, but Lucroy had one of the worst seasons of his career last season. He may be unwilling to take a backup role, but it makes sense if the Cubs want another veteran mentor for Willson Contreras. Lucroy was in the conversation as the best catcher in the game for a good stretch during his run with the Brewers.

David Ross

Just kidding. Or am I? *Insert maniacal laugh* But seriously, let’s let him have his time off. He’s earned it.