Chicago Cubs: Where does Victor Caratini fit into the long-term plans?
Despite a breakout showing last season, Chicago Cubs catcher Victor Caratini might not have a long-term place with the team due to its catching depth.
It goes without saying. There’s nothing but uncertainty when it comes to the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Maybe teams will all play in Arizona, maybe they’ll head to their respective Cactus and Grapefruit League homes – no one really knows. But that doesn’t stop us from evaluating the long-term outlook for the Chicago Cubs.
For the time being, Willson Contreras has the catcher’s role on lockdown. The two-time All-Star is one of the highest-performing catchers in all of baseball and brings a fiery passion that’s contagious to the diamond on a daily basis.
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Regardless of whether or not the 2020 season comes to fruition, Contreras will hit the open market after the 2022 campaign. Heading into his age-28 season, it appears that he’s got plenty left in the tank. But facing the uncomfortable decisions over who to extend, the Cubs simply may not have the resources to lock him up long-term.
Should that come to fruition, thankfully Chicago boasts some of the best organizational catching depth in the game today. That’s not to say these guys are ready to take over at Wrigley Field this season, but there are plenty of up-and-coming names to keep an eye on.
The first one on that list? Switch-hitting backstop Victor Caratini, who turned in the best season of his big league career in 2019, emerging as not only a quality defender behind the plate, but a legitimate threat at the dish, as well.
Last year, Caratini slashed .266/.348/.447 in 279 plate appearances. Right now, we can assume he’ll catch every fifth day when Yu Darvish toes the rubber – but other than that, it’s a matter of getting him reps when you can, which isn’t ideal given his breakout showing last year.
Obviously, retaining Caratini long-term would be far more affordable than Contreras. But there’s a lot more that will go into that decision for Theo Epstein and the front office than one or the other. Chicago boasts an impressive number of catching prospects, as well – which could further cloud Caratini’s future with the organization.
Miguel Amaya stands at the top of that group as one of the most highly-coveted catching prospects in the game today. It stands to reason Chicago could pivot to Caratini in the semi-near future, with the goal of handing the reins to Amaya in coming years, rather than shelling out major resources to a player of Contreras’ caliber via a contract extension.
The future is uncertain on more than one front, but Victor Caratini will be a valuable member of the team in the near future – and a guy that shouldn’t be overlooked when we’re talking about a new era in Chicago Cubs baseball.