Chicago Cubs: Top things to keep an eye on heading into 2019 season

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Question marks surround the team’s backstops

For one reason or another, the Cubs offseason did not focus on help behind the plate.  While Willson Contreas is a great field general, it was apparent that he began to slow down toward the latter half of the season. In the aftermath, it’s been suggested that a heavy workload proved costly for the young backstop.

After hitting .276 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI in just 117 games in 2017, Contreas’ offense took a downturn in 2018.  Despite playing in 21 more games and racking up nearly 100 more plate appearances, the majority of his offensive numbers took a downturn, especially after a dreadful second half.

Despite many options on the open market this offseason, Chicago opted to stay in-house in reinforcing Contreras behind the plate.

Twenty-four-year-old Victor Caratini seems to be the answer as the team’s backup catcher.  This is due in large part to him being able to hold his own behind the plate, throwing out 28 percent of would-be base stealers. He also served as the personal catcher for Cole Hamels, who returned via a $20 million team option.

Another alternative from Caratini is 29-year-old Taylor Davis.  He’s become known as a great clubhouse guy and a wiz in front of the camera, however, lacks much experience catching at the big-league level.

While the Cubs have options, the team needs to manage Contreas’ playing time with someone who can still produce in his absence in order to not burn out the former All-Star.  If Contreas shows signs of fatigue and struggles as a result and the Cubs are in the hunt for October, look for the front office to change course and look to acquire a more suitable option to complement Contreas.