Chicago Cubs: Evaluating the catching position going forward
Chicago Cubs need at least one more alternative, even with Miguel Amaya
Martin Maldonado (35)
Easy to forget Maldonado was a Cub very briefly in 2019, but regardless he has been around a long time. He has caught in 831 MLB games in his 11-year career and sports a .993 percent fielding percentage and 74 DRS (defensive runs saved). Like most veteran catchers he is not known for the bat, as he sports a .212/.290/.348 hitter with 81 home runs, but his defense and instincts work very well as a catcher. He has done a great job with Houston’s pitching staff for the past three years. The question is does he want to be the number two guy and likely get reduced playing time.
Manny Pina (34)
A familiar face to Cubs fans who have watched plenty of their matchups with the Brewers, Pina will be on the market this offseason. Pina provides a bit more in the offensive production department as he sports a career .245/.314/.413 slash in 409 games with 42 home runs and a .726 OPS. Despite a low average this year (.189) he hit a career-high 13 home runs. Over the past five years he has averaged roughly 74 games played a season, so workload should not be an issue.
Stephen Vogt (36)
The two-time All Star catcher has hit some tough times in 2021. In addition to struggling at the plate with both the Diamondbacks and Braves, he recently had hernia surgery after missing the last of the regular season and postseason due to injury. Vogt’s best days are well behind him, and at 36 might not be the best option for being the solidified veteran backup, but taking a look at him on an MiLB deal or Spring Training invite (if he does not get any other offers) could be worth it.
Sandy Leon (32)
Leon is pretty typical as veteran catchers come. Career .212/.277/.319 hitter with a .995 fielding percentage and 36 DRS behind the plate. He was part of the 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox team and worked well with pitchers like Chris Sale. Experience and durability is the value you are getting here.
Those are just some examples. If Contreras is indeed the starting catcher in 2022 then the depth will have to accept a backup role. Hopefully the Cubs will have better luck with health at the catcher position next year.