The impact of top Chicago Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya needing Tommy John surgery is going to be felt throughout the organization, especially at the big league level, in 2022.
All we’ve really talked about when it comes to this offseason is how Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins plan to breathe life into one of the worst starting rotations in all of baseball and whether or not they’ll shock us all and get in on one of the marquee free agent shortstops. But there’s a lot more that needs our attention when it comes to assembling a working roster ahead of next spring.
As we’re all well aware of, Chicago embarked on a full-scale fire sale back in July, trading Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Andrew Chafin, Trevor Williams, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel ahead of the trade deadline. The lone All-Star-caliber position player they retained was catcher Willson Contreras.
Given he’s now entering his final year of team control, we’re all wondering the same thing: will Chicago unload Contreras at the deadline if the club has fallen out of contention, similar to what they did with Bryant, Baez and Rizzo in 2021? There’s a very good chance – but one that could be totally negated if the front office locks him up with an extension this offseason.
Why is this such a critical move for the Cubs now? Well, apart from Contreras, the organization carries just one other catcher on the 40-man roster – and it’s Amaya, who will miss, at the very least, a solid chunk of the 2022 season working his way back from surgery.
Chicago Cubs have absolutely no organizational catching depth right now
So who’s behind Contreras on the depth chart? That’s the problem. There’s no one waiting in the wings at the big league level, ready to even give the two-time All-Star a day off, let alone step in should the Cubs trade him this winter.
And if you’re thinking the free agent market is the answer, you’re sorely mistaken. An already thin group has already seen the likes of Manny Pina, Pedro Severino and Sandy Leon come off the board, leaving options like Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki, Yan Gomes, Austin Romine and Robinson Chirinos available.
The problem with all of those guys is they’re on the wrong side of 30 (some well past the wrong side and in what can only be called the waning hours of their big league careers). You can’t pencil in a near-40-year-old backstop into the lineup card on an everyday basis and not anticipate the wheels coming off in the process.
So with Amaya sidelined for a considerable amount of time, Chicago needs to add another ball into its circuit of juggling action ahead of the work stoppage that’s less than a week away: figure out if Contreras is your catcher of the future or if you need a very, very creative plan to cover the position heading into 2022.