With little catching depth, the Cubs have interest in free agent Jason Castro.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and that’s undoubtedly true when looking back at Victor Caratini‘s time with the Cubs. We probably took him for granted – and now, he’s joining his battery mate Yu Darvish in San Diego.
Which leaves Chicago in a precarious situation when it comes to catching depth. Sure, you’ve got one of the game’s most highly-regarded backstops in two-time All-Star Willson Contreras. But given Jed Hoyer’s focus on the future, trading Contreras at some point in the next two years certainly can’t be ruled out.
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That means the Cubs need a big league-caliber catcher on the roster besides Contreras. It isn’t some barstool debate fans can have at this point. Rather, it’s a must for this team. According to The Athletic (subscription required), Chicago has an eye on free agent catcher Jason Castro.
Castro, 33, is a former first-round pick of the Houston Astros. While he’s never been an above-average presence with a bat in his hands, he’s played important roles on several postseason clubs, including the Astros, Twins and, most recently, the Padres.
The left-handed hitting catcher fares far better against righties than southpaws offensively, which could, at least in theory, make him a perfect compliment to Contreras should the Cubs hold onto him in the weeks to come.
On the other side of the coin, if Chicago decides to unload everyone, including Contreras, this year, Castro has the experience needed to slide into the everyday role. I assume we’ll see some Triple-A depth added to the mix, as well – because, again, if Contreras is gone and Castro starts, we’d be right back where we are right now: without a backup catcher.
Here’s something that every single Cubs fan needs to understand right here and now. Miguel Amaya is not a viable option in 2021. Hoyer has said as much. I know he’s got a ton of hype and excitement surrounding him, but this kid hasn’t played above High-A ball, is just 21 years of age and missed an entire year of development due to the canceled MiLB season last year.
So while we’re looking forward to his arrival at the Friendly Confines, don’t expect some sort of fast-tracked development schedule like we saw with guys like Kyle Schwarber or Nico Hoerner. Again, Hoyer is making it abundantly clear that the future is what matters most – so he’s absolutely not going to jeopardize it by rushing Amaya to the big leagues this year.
For now, someone like Castro is a perfect fit. He ranks in the top third of the league in pitch framing and is right about league average in terms of caught stealing percentage. That’s all you need from a backup catcher – and given his decade of experience, he’ll bring a veteran pedigree to a team that could get young in a hurry.