Chicago Cubs: Gimenez making good first impressions

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs situation regarding their backup catcher will be interesting. While they want prospect Victor Caratini to develop in the majors, Chris Gimenez is looking to make the big league roster.

Spring training is still in the early stages of opening week roughly a month away. However, a few games can help start to give one an idea of how someone looks so far this year. One guy standing out is catcher Chris Gimenez, who was signed to a minor-league deal in the offseason.

Gimenez, 35, has been a career-backup spending time with the Indians, Mariners, Rays, Rangers and Twins. When he was signed, people got excited because he had worked with Yu Darvish in Texas, and though it was part of a Darvish-signing process. Well, Yu is here, but there was not much correlation between him and Gimenez like say Jon Lester and David Ross.

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Right now the Cubs have a decision to make come opening day. Gimenez or Victor Caratini to backup Willson Contreras? Or do they carry three catchers? So far Gimenez has looked real good this spring.

Gimenez’s spring performance

Gimenez, like many backup catchers, is not known for eye-popping offensive numbers. Though last year in Minnesota he hit seven home runs with a .350 OBP and .731 OPS in 74 games. Not bad for a backup. This spring he has handled the bat very well.

In eight at-bats he is slashing .500/.556/.500 with a team-leading seven RBIs. It may be small sample size, but Gimenez is battling for a spot on the roster and is putting forth maximum effort. As spring training goes along it will be interesting to see how he works with other pitchers in games.

If he keeps up the good hitting, it may be enough to lobby for the backup role on opening day. What gives Gimenez an advantage is that he has experience, and having a veteran catcher on a playoff contending team has proven to be important.

Caratini’s chances

Victor Caratini’s main advantage in this situation is that he is in the Cubs future plans. He is currently still considered a prospect despite playing in major league games last year. Baseball America has him as the number four guy in the Cubs pipeline.

The Cubs are going to want to develop him, which includes getting plenty of MLB playing time. There were obvious strengths and weaknesses he showed last year. He slashed .254/.333/.356 with a home run in 66 plate appearances. Working both his hitting and defense is greatly done with just playing the game.

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There is no doubt Caratini will play in the majors in 2018, but him starting the year in AAA is still possible. That way he can get everyday at-bats, but sometime or later he has to come up and play in the majors to get real experience. Joe may go with three catchers or just choose one of them; it is pretty open right now.