After a breakout 2019, Cubs catcher Victor Caratini struggled this season.
Victor Caratini had a great year in 2019 as the primary backup catcher for the Chicago Cubs. He was a key piece that manager Joe Maddon used off the bench. The switch hitter had by far the best season he has had in the big leagues, slashing .266/.348/.328 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI in 279 plate appearances – good for a 105 OPS+. Caratini was also given the opportunity to be Yu Darvish‘s personal catcher, and we all know how Darvish finished the 2019 season.
The feel around the Cubs coming into 2020 was Caratini was going to build off the breakout 2019 and be even better in 2020. Then the news came that the DH was coming to the National League. The Cubs felt the switch-hitting Caratini would be the guy used in that role on days he wasn’t catching Darvish.
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Caratini overall had a pretty down year in 2020. Like many of his teammates, it was one of the worst seasons of his career. He slashed .241/.333/.328 with one home run and 16 RBI and had an 80 OPS+ in 132 plate appearances.
Caratini like many of the other Cubs players had down years in 2020. I wouldn’t look into it that much because of the crazy year. It was a hard season for everyone, with many guys in the league trending in the wrong direction .
Looking forward to 2021 there have been rumors floating that the Cubs might be trying to trade their starting catcher Wilson Contreras. Now I think I can speak for most Cubs fans when I say I hope this doesn’t happen. Contreras is one of the best catchers in all of baseball and it would hurt to lose him.
If it were to happen, though, Caratini would become the guy. Now we have seen what the Puerto Rico native can do in a full season as a backup and he was very good. But It would be a big drop-off to go from Contreras to Caratini as your go-to presence behind the plate.
Now, I’m not saying Caratini is a bad player by any means, but it just shows how good Contreras really is, especially after his noted defensive improvements. Being able to have Caratini as the backup is a huge win for the Cubs. It was talked about in 2019 how he was one of the best backups in all of baseball.
I expect Caratini will bounce back in 2021 like many of his other teammates after having a rough 2020 – but what his role will be remains to be seen.