Chicago Cubs: Caratini making the roster complicates his future

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

Victor Caratini will receive limited playing time as Willson Contreras’ backup. Could the Cubs demote him back to Triple-A or even trade him in the near future?

Chicago Cubs catcher Victor Caratini has a bright MLB future ahead of him. However, if that comes solely with the Cubs must be determined.

Saturday, manager Joe Maddon announced that Caratini, 24, made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster over veteran Chris Gimenez. Caratini will backup Willson Contreras, who some feel could be an MVP candidate in 2018.

Caratini’s positions are filled

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For this reason, Caratini making the roster is surprising. Contreras will not play all 162 games this season, of course. However, the Cubs’ success is contingent on him playing and playing well.

Essentially, barring injury (knock on wood) Contreras will soak up as many at-bats as possible for the Cubs. Caratini is full of potential and worthy of his ranking as the team’s eighth best prospect.

Despite this, the reality of the situation is that Caratini is going to do a lot more watching than playing to start the season. Maddon has notoriously found playing time for his deep pool of position players in recent seasons.

Not enough at-bats to go around

Caratini’s case is different because he is a catcher who can play first base if needed. While he played outfield in 2017, the Cubs are already juggling five players for three outfield positions.

Adding Caratini would only take away at-bats from the likes of Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Albert Almora, etc. If Caratini is going to play in 2018, it would be at catcher or first base. Like Contreras, though, the Cubs are not going to sit Anthony Rizzo much, if at all.

Young players need playing time to gain experience in the big leagues. While Caratini is worthy of being on an MLB roster, adding him just to sit on the bench only does him a disservice. He needs to play, even if it is with Triple-A Iowa.

MLB more valuable than minor leagues

Maddon’s comments about potentially having trouble finding Caratini playing time are worthy of note. From

"“We felt Victor was ready for this,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. “We also know he may not get enough opportunities to play in the beginning. Even possibly sitting there, going through the prep every day and getting in some action on occasion, maybe pinch-hitting once in a while, picking up some later innings, that’s equally as valuable for him as it is for him to go back to Triple-A, where he’s done a really good job in the past, and you know he can do that.”"

Ultimately, it seems that the Cubs would rather play Caratini on a part-time basis rather than send him to Triple-A to play more frequently. This logic does make sense because of how Caratini has constantly dominated at Iowa.

In 83 games (292 at-bats) with Triple-A Iowa in 2017, Caratini hit .342 with 10 home runs and 61 RBIs. While he would help Iowa, he has nothing left to prove at that level.

Must make a decision eventually

At this point, Caratini is worthy of playing in the MLB, hence why the Cubs named him to their roster. However, it should not come as a surprise if/when Gimenez joins the Cubs.

Gimenez can ask the Cubs to release him if he is not promoted from the minor leagues by June 1. This alone will not be the reason he joins the Cubs; it will have more to do with finding Caratini playing time.

All in all, Caratini could prove many wrong and stick with the Cubs all season long. At this time, though, it just seems far-fetched for the Cubs to sit a promising player on the bench more often than not.

At some point, the Cubs will have a decision to make regarding Caratini. Contreras looks set to be the man behind the plate for years to come.

Next: Ian Happ named Cubs' leadoff hitter

If the Cubs cannot find Caratini at-bats in Chicago, it might be best to move him to get him the at-bats he needs and deserves.