Chicago Cubs: What is Victor Caratini to this year’s team?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit ranks Victor Caratini as the Chicago Cubs’ sixth best prospect. What does his future with the team hold for 2018 and beyond?

Victor Caratini has an entire big league career ahead of him. At 24 years old, the Chicago Cubs switch-hitting catcher/first baseman could positively impact any MLB team for years to come.

Unfortunately for Caratini, the Cubs have another young catcher blocking him on the depth chart: Willson Contreras. Contreras, of course, is a building block expected to be with the Cubs for years to come.

So where does this leave Caratini? Surely, the Cubs have room on their roster for a player that hit .342 in 83 games (292 at-bats) with Triple-A Iowa in 2017. His .254 average in 31 games (59 at-bats) is not too shabby for a rookie with limited playing time either.

Last week, the Cubs signed journeyman catcher Chris Gimenéz to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Gimenéz will be Caratini’s main competition to back up Contreras in 2018. If Yu Darvish winds up in Chicago, the tables may shift in favor of Gimenéz given their history together.

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The Cubs have thrived over the last few seasons largely due to the versatility of their roster. Part of this includes using three catchers for majority of the 2016 season in Miguel Montero, David Ross and Contreras.

Moving past a three-catcher model?

Despite using three catchers in the past, it seems unlikely that the Cubs would do this in 2018. The team could use this extra roster spot for another pitcher or even another position player to add depth. This depth player could still be Caratini, however.

On the one hand, signing Gimenéz does not mean he will win the Cubs’ backup catcher job. While he does boast experience in playing parts of nine MLB seasons, the best man will win the job.

On the other hand, Gimenéz winning the job would not necessarily eliminate Caratini from the Cubs’ roster. The 24-year-old has experience at both first and third base in the minor leagues. He could become another Cub that shifts around multiple positions in a season.

Caratini could be an option to play third base when Kris Bryant needs a breather or first base when Anthony Rizzo needs rest. He also played outfield for the Cubs in 2017, so surely this could be an option for him in 2018, as well.

Next: Cubs are past the days of reactionary moves

Ultimately, only time will tell what happens to Caratini in 2018. The Cubs must find a way to get him playing time, whether that is as a backup catcher or moving across the diamond day-in and day-out.