Chicago Cubs: Victor Caratini’s potential high value in 2020
Chicago Cubs: Behind the dish, Caratini was noticeably effective as a catcher and meshed well with some of the pitchers
The value of Caratini behind the plate has helped the team in several ways. Contreras indeed does have the better arm, but Caratini is the better catcher in terms of defense and framing. Last year Caratini had a 1.6 FRM (Catcher Framing on FanGraphs) while Contreras put up a -8.9. In terms of DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), Caratini sported a 1 and Contreras sported a -1. DRS does not show much of a difference, and it’s not necessarily the most important defensive stat, but worth noting.
One of the biggest storylines of 2019 was the resurgence of Yu Darvish, who saw Caratini become his personal catcher. In the 19 games Darvish threw to Caratini, he pitched to a 3.29 ERA, 155 strikeouts against 16 walks and a .210 average against. His ERA in the 12 games not caught by Caratini, Darvish pitched to a 5.42 ERA. Darvish is going to be the potential ace of the staff, and the chemistry between the two could prove massive in the starts he makes.
The Cubs organization as a whole has depth at the catcher position with Miguel Amaya down on the farm. If Contreras evolves into other primary roles like more outfield or DH (if it ends up being permanently utilized in the National League), then Caratini has shown the potential to be a reliable starter. This goes beyond his value in 2020 but an outlook on his career’s future long term.
Chicago Cubs: Caratini’s versatility can allow him to contribute in many ways, especially if there is a DH
As previously mentioned, Caratini can play multiple spots on the infield. He has started 23 career games at first base and played a total of 258 2/3 innings at that position. In his career at first, he has a 9.1 UZR/150, 1 DRS and .992 fielding percentage. Not a huge sample size, but Caratini has played 7 2/3 innings in his career at third base as well. His experience at first can be advantageous.
With the DH being part of the potential 60-game season, then this can open the door for Caratini. Both Anthony Rizzo and Contreras have had some injury concerns and could spend some time at DH even if the season is shorter. It is most likely there will not be just one DH on the team. Caratini can be the backup catcher, but if Rizzo is spending a day as DH, then Caratini is your first baseman.
Will Caratini play any DH? He is not going to be as high on the list like Kyle Schwarber or Steven Souza Jr, but if the main starters are in and you want his bat in there, then maybe Ross can slide him in there. Again, the season will be short and not much time to experiment much, but being a DH is a role Caratini could play because he can hit and is not just a defensive backup catcher.
Caratini could potentially grow into one of the essential position players outside the central core. He has a nice balance of talents both behind the dish and at the dish while also being somewhat versatile. 2020 he can serve as a very valuable player in a short time.