Chicago Cubs: If Baez isn’t healthy for Opening Day, who makes the roster?
Cubs don’t need to dig too deep
The Cubs have a few prospects who are already on the 40 man roster which makes calling them up to the majors an easier transaction.
Mark Zagunis is arguably the best hitter the Cubs will have waiting in Triple-A (.267/.404/.455) for major league at-bats. So Baez’s injury could be his first opportunity this season to get some playing time in the majors.
Don’t forget about Caratini’s bat. He’s a switch hitter who in Triple-A last year showed that he could hit for average (.342). Also, some power (10 HR, 27 2B, three 3B) and walk a decent rate (27 walks in 326 plate appearances). In addition to playing catcher, Caratini also saw substantial time at first base last year, so he adds a little bit of positional flexibility.
The “three-catcher” days
At the beginning of the 2015 season, the Cubs were forced to carry three catchers on the roster (Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo). Castillo had an especially difficult time finding playing time and he was eventually traded away.
Caratini could make the argument that he is an even better bat than Zagunis. But if he were to take Baez’s place on the roster it would be primarily as a pinch hitter who would rarely if ever stay in the game to play a defensive position. That won’t allow for much playing time.
The Cubs may have three catchers in the majors at some point, but I doubt they begin this season that way. It didn’t work at the beginning of 2015. So I predict that either Caratini wins the second string catcher job over Gimenez or he starts the year at Triple-A.
What about Bote?
David Bote is a prospect and utility man who was added to the 40-man roster this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He has played every position in the minors except for catcher and center field. However, he’s played the fewest innings at shortstop out of all of the infield positions.
And Bote didn’t even play a single inning as a shortstop last season at Double-A. Since Bote doesn’t provide much of a backup shortstop option, I doubt he begins the season in the majors. However, Bote is hitting .270 (10-for-37) with one double, a triple, a home run and six RBI.