Chicago Cubs: Has Caratini’s stock risen so much that he brings a huge return?
Coming into 2019, Victor Caratini was a still a bit of an unproven commodity both behind the plate and at the plate. He had only seen action in 107 total games at the MLB level, and gotten only 266 PA in those games. With an unimpressive slash line of .238/.303/.317 for an OPS+ of 65, no one was quite sure how Caratini would fit in for a contending club who seemed to need a more veteran presence more than another young guy.
Early in the season, it looked like Contreras had not only answered any questions about his qualifications, but was pushing for more time on a team with an All-Star already cemented at both positions he could play – first base and catcher. His early slash line of .571/.647/1.000 was creating a lot of buzz for a guy thought of as a backup. Alas, Caratini suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand on April 11 and was out for a month.
When he came back, he struggled for about a month, putting up a .192/.288/.269 slash line from May 16 to June 22. However, since June 23, Caratini has been really solid. His slash line of .276/.361/.500 over the past two months speaks for itself, and it gets better since starting to play a bit more since Contreras went to the IL. Since August 7, Caratini has been on fire, boasting a .315/.393/.556 line that shows he’s clearly over the hand injury that slowed him earlier in the summer.
As a switch-hitter, Caratini doesn’t need to fit a platoon and he can also play first base. He also has been an excellent pitch framer this year, currently squatting at 11th in the majors. He has been worth 1.6 fWAR so far this season, 15th best in baseball. As a backup for most of the season.
If Caratini has turned enough heads in this breakout 2019, he could very well be an attractive proposition for other general managers looking to acquire a younger, cost-controlled backstop who can hit and catch. At just 26 with four more years of team control after this season, this guy might just be the most valuable commodity at catcher in all of baseball.
Maybe even ahead of his own teammate depending on how you’d value the injuries, extra wear-and-tear, and cost factor. While he would make up the best duo in baseball on the North Side of Chicago, he might just fetch more than the Cubs could turn down on the trade market this offseason.
Regardless of their value and worth on the trade market, my hope is that both of these guys stick around a few more years on what seem likely to be really talented Cubs teams. You just can’t turn down winning trades if they present themselves and you have the chips to do it.