Chicago Cubs: Does the team need a veteran behind Contreras?
Last season, young catcher Victor Caratini got his first real crack at the big leagues. You may point to his 2017 debut as such an instance, but with Rene Rivera, Alex Avila and Willson Contreras all on the roster down the stretch, it’s hard to call Caratini’s role even a ‘second-string’ catcher.
But in 2018, the role pretty much belonged to him all year, aside from a brief and unsuccessful Chris Gimenez experiment. Over the course of the campaign, Caratini hit just .232 with a dismal .293 on-base percentage, down a full 40 points from the year prior.
Behind the dish, he graded out decently well. He came in just above league average (27.9 percent) by throwing out 28 percent of would-be base stealers. The former second-rounder, in short, held his own defensively, eventually emerging as Cole Hamels’ personal catcher, but barely hit his weight.
In recent years, we saw Chicago go with three catchers on the 25-man roster. This year, they largely opted for Contreras and Caratini. But with Contreras catching more than he ever had, the Cubs either need to go back to that three-man catching rotation to keep him fresh or look for a reliable veteran to replace Caratini.
Because let’s be honest. His future is nothing more than a perennial backup behind Willson Contreras. And his value to the Cubs in the near future may very well be higher as a trade chip than as a backup catcher.