Chicago Cubs: Victor Caratini nearly sets the Opening Day roster

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

There wasn’t a whole lot of mystery in the Chicago Cubs camp. Maybe a pitcher and the backup catcher spot were on the line. Now we know who one of those will be. Victor Caratini has beat out Chris Gimenez for the backup role.

I have to admit. I’m a little bit surprised by the Chicago Cubs naming Victor Caratini over Chris Gimenez to the Opening Day roster. In no way did I think that was a set decision. But I felt that Gimenez had done what he needed to in order to earn the spot breaking camp. And, to be honest, I felt like the Cubs would want to get more at-bats for Caratini at Triple-A Iowa.

But that’s not to say I’m disappointed by the decision. On the contrary. If Maddon can find at-bats for him, he may be another weapon in Maddon’s toolbox. It’s possible that he could spell Anthony Rizzo at times, and of course, Willson Contreras. First base and catcher are the only spots they would need him for. Javier Baez can cover the majority of roles on the infield, along with Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ.

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More good in Chicago than Iowa

For Maddon, I think it came down to Caratini doing more good on the Cubs roster that he would in Iowa. He will get to work with Contreras, as well as Mike Borzello on the big league club. So there are some advantages to being in Chicago. But will he be able to sneak in enough at-bats in to be worth it?

For the Cubs’ skipper, he seems always to find a way to get at-bats for guys–no matter how few spots there seem to be available. But with Zobrist likely to fill a super-sub role, and Jason Heyward fighting for his life when it comes to at-bats–it’s hard to figure out where he’ll play Caratini on the regular.

I do not doubt that Caratini deserved to be on the Opening Day roster. The only thing that made me question that was the signing of Gimenez, and his ties to Yu Darvish. Before that? Caratini was the guy I felt should have had the spot. Regardless of needing to work on his defense. Gimenez will report to Iowa. But if he’s not promoted by June 1 he can ask to be released.

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That window should allow the Cubs enough time to decide on Caratini. If sometime before then he’s struggling, or Maddon can’t get him the number of at-bats he’s comfortable with? Gimenez may get the call-up while Caratini will head down to Iowa.

It’s an exciting but pivotal point for the Cubs catcher. With his bat, he belongs on this roster. Now he just needs to show enough behind the plate to make it work.