Chicago Cubs utilized an absurd number of catchers in 2021

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

Nine different guys caught at least one inning for the Chicago Cubs in 2021. Nine! Seven of these nine started at least one game behind the dish. A combination of injuries and DFAs created the situation, and there were points where longtime minor leaguers with zero MLB experience had to be called up just to fill in. Willson Contreras played in 116 games at catcher, the next guy to catch the most games was veteran Robinson Chirinos at 27.

Austin Romine was signed as the veteran backup prior to 2021 and he missed much of the season due to injury. He only caught 21 games and was the last of the three guys to catch in at least 20 games along with Chirinos and Contreras. There were two other veterans who got playing time with the Cubs behind the dish including Tony Wolters and Jose Lobaton, who caught in a combined 13 games.

The remaining catchers included P.J. Higgins, Erick Castillo, Taylor Gushue Tyler Payne, all of which had zero MLB experience prior to 2021. None of those guys was younger than 27.

Building chemistry between pitchers and catchers is essential, and it is hard to build that when there is a rotating door of backstops. Pulling guys in their late-20s/early 30s from the minor leagues is not something the Cubs want to make a habit of in 2022. Obviously, when injuries happen, it is out of their control, but having as much established depth as possible is important.

Chicago Cubs are looking for stability at the catcher’s position in 2022

Signing Yan Gomes before the lockout was an important move, not only did it give the Cubs another veteran backstop, but a guy who has experience playing in 100+ games as a starter. Also not bad to have a catcher with double-digit home run pop either. Gomes has been pretty durable and that can put some ease on Contreras who has had his share of injuries the past few years. Since it seems like the universal DH is coming, then Gomes can catch while keeping Contreras in the lineup on certain days.

It would be wise for the Cubs to bring in a few more veterans on either a cheap MLB deal once the lockout is over or even via some minor league pacts. Either way, it won’t cost much to add some depth in the organization at that position, teams do it every year. Chirinos last year did a solid job as a veteran when he played, those are the types of guys that you can bring in as catching depth.

Cubs shifting focus away from rotation. dark. Next

Hopefully, Contreras and Gomes will be able to handle most of the catching in 2022. As we have seen with every season there is need for a third or fourth guy to fill in every now and then, but last year was absurd. Credit guys like Higgins, Castillo, Gushue and Payne for finally making it to the bigs, even if just very briefly, but that was not an ideal situation from a team perspective.