Chicago Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini proved himself to be a valuable commodity to the team in 2019 and could do the same in 2020.
Despite the skepticism he received going into last year, Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini was quick to silence his haters. He only played 107 games between his first two seasons in the majors, providing room for doubt but the 26-year-old still proved himself to be a valuable asset for the team.
Caratini started out scorching hot, slashing a whopping .571/.647/1.000 until April 11 when he broke the hamate bone in his left hand which kept him off the field for a month. When he came back, he struggled briefly but eventually got back into a groove. Throughout the season, Caratini was given various opportunities to prove his skill set both defensively behind the plate and at first base and offensively at-bat.
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With Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo both falling to their respective injury stints throughout the season, Caratini was given the opportunity to step up to the plate (literally). He displayed his ability to play multiple positions— catcher and first base. It should be noted that he is also a switch-hitter who is a useful skill in its own right.
Caratini finished the season slashing .266/.348/.447, which isn’t too shabby, especially for a backup catcher. He also became Yu Darvish’s personal catcher in the second half of the season. Of course, the right-hander had a fantastic second half, and at least part of that success can be contributed to Caratini and his abilities.
Not only that, but Caratini is a stellar pitch framer, finishing 2019 with a 1.4 fWAR as a backup catcher. This is a guy who is versatile, making him a valuable piece that could be used to the team’s advantage come 2020, whether it be on the field or the trade market.
Throughout this offseason, rumors have been surrounding the idea that the Cubs need to make trades to compete in 2020. There have been talks about Contreras being a valuable trade asset this winter. Caratini showed that he could handle being an everyday catcher, but he also proved enough of his own worth to be considered for the trade market himself.
While it might not seem likely, with Miguel Amaya waiting in the minors, it is possible. Plus, as a young backstop who can hit and catch, he could attract a lot of attention and draw in a significant return.
If Caratini does return to the North Side in 2020, the question becomes whether or not he can meet or follow up his breakout 2019 season. Getting another stellar year out of a valuable backstop would definitely help the Cubs compete in 2020 and beyond.