Cubs Rumors: Stagnant offseason could be forgiven with a small move
It’s crowded behind the plate in Boston. Last year, they had Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart all on the active roster and sharing playing time. With the 2019 season less than a week away, reports indicate that the defending World Series champions are discussing possible trades to rid themselves of one of them with Leon appearing to be the odd-man out.
While not high on the Cub fan’s list of rumored sources (see Exhibit KB), ESPN’s Buster Olney reported earlier this week that the Red Sox are indeed taking offers for the 30-year-old Leon and, needless to say, I took heed.
It piqued my interest because the move makes so much sense for the Cubs. If you’re aware of what Sandy Leon silently contributes to ball clubs from behind the curtain, you would be intrigued about his hypothetical presence at Wrigley too.
Despite the Cubs unwillingness to spend money this past offseason, many thought the team would at least add a viable backup option behind the plate to complement Willson Contreras. It was very apparent that the 26-year-old All-Star simply ran out of steam and disappeared in the second half of last season, presumingly due to being fatigued and overused. Virtually all of his offensive numbers took a big dip in 2018 as a result of the heavy workload.
Surprisingly enough, the front office didn’t sign any new faces to counteract this issue. Even with many notable names that could fill a backup role, such as Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, and Kurt Suzuki, Theo & Co. failed to do so. Instead, they opted to fill the role from within.
At the start of Spring Training, the team announced that Victor Caratini would remain the secondary option, at least for the foreseeable future. Caratini has proved capable and reliable in the role. In 2018, he threw out 28 percent of would-be-base stealers and even served as Cole Hamels‘ personal catcher after the former World Series MVP was acquired on July 27.
Along with contributing to Hamels’ second-half surge with Chicago, Caratini can also moonlight at first base, adding that much more versatility to the Cubs roster. While he can adequately handle the role, there is perhaps nobody better in the game today at playcalling behind the plate in a reserve capacity than Sandy Leon.