Chicago Cubs: Missing out on Rene Rivera hints at team’s backup catcher plans
Adding a new name to the mix
There are certainly plenty other free agent catchers available. However, Rivera was the closest thing to David Ross that was available this offseason. Since the Cubs didn’t get Rivera, I doubt they end up with any of the catchers listed on this page. That is, unless they did want Rivera, but were unable to finalize a deal.
But back to those other options.
Ever since the Milwaukee Brewers traded Jonathan Lucroy, he hasn’t been the same. It seems that Lucroy’s skills have fallen off a cliff. It’s also possible that he could return to form and be an All-Star again.
Lucroy’s recent past is the reason he remains an intriguing target. Its also the reason he may end up with a starting job and not a backup role.
If the Cubs are looking for a catcher to provide a veteran presence, they don’t get more veteran than Carlos Ruiz. But is he too ‘veteran’? Ruiz is 38 years old. He’s five years removed from receiving down-ballot MVP votes. Last year, he hit just .216/.313/.352. He might not have another good season in him.
You might think that Clayton Kershaw‘s former personal catcher A.J. Ellis is a great pitch framer, but he’s not. His R.A.A. (Runs Above Average) last season was -10.4. One of the things that helped the Cubs in 2016 was pitch framing. Montero (16.1) and Ross (8.7) were two of the best pitch framers in baseball that year. Even Conteras had a positive R.A.A. of 3.3 in 2016. If the Cubs sign a veteran catcher who isn’t a good hitter, then pitch framing is one of the things they will emphasize.