Chicago Cubs: Catching looks like a long-term question mark

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

In 2021, the lack of depth at the catcher position reared its ugly head for the Chicago Cubs. Signing veteran Yan Gomes is a good temporary answer in the short-term, but long-term, there is a lot to be desired in terms of stability.

One of the few core pieces left, backstop Willson Contreras is set to enter free agency next offseason unless the team can work out an extension with him before then. With the position the Cubs are in, around that time is when they will be looking to enter another contending window and you want to be sure you aren’t scrambling for a reliable piece at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

The team’s top catching prospect Miguel Amaya (ranked #4 in the Cubs Top 30 Prospects) has been marketed as the most likely heir to Contreras for a couple years now. Recently though, he’s been seeming to slip after a set of tough breaks over the last three years.

He, unfortunately, had to get Tommy John surgery after limited playing time in 2021 that came on the heels of a canceled 2020 MiLB season and will likely miss the 2022 season. For any player at any level, there is a lot of uncertainty when they come back from something as major as Tommy John but it’s especially concerning for a developing prospect who hasn’t seen regular reps now since 2019.

Amaya has been in the organization since 2015 when the Cubs signed him out of Panama and has mainly been known for his above-average defense. His bat still leaves a little to be desired, but most scouts believe he will be able to develop into a .260 average hitter with a little bit of pop, which I believe is good enough to pair along with his great pitch framing and ability to block the ball behind the plate.

In the event that Amaya doesn’t pan out, there have been talks about the Cubs planning to trade for first baseman Eric Hosmer from San Diego to essentially eat his contract in exchange for a prospect. The main prospect that has been floating around in rumors is Luis Campusano. Campusano has been making strides as a hitter every year he’s been in professional baseball, and he’d be a better choice for the fans that are more interested in a power-bat, run-producing catcher.

Chicago Cubs: Internal catching options are young, far from the bigs

In terms of within the organization, catching has been one of the thinner positions. Outside of Amaya, there are no catchers among the Cubs’ Top 30 prospects. Although, the club has been spending on the position quite a bit in the international free agent pool. Moises Ballesteros and Ronnier Quintero are the main two at the moment and they both had decent seasons in 2021, with Ballesteros having the better of the two. But, neither of these guys have played above Rookie ball and aren’t above 20 yet.

There is still quite a bit left in this team’s re-tooling, obviously, but you really can’t afford to make catching one of your last priorities. And if the team can’t come to terms on a deal with Contreras before the season starts, he will likely be dealt sooner rather than later to maximize his value.

Next. A reunion with Nick Castellanos is as unlikely as ever. dark

I would like to think that whoever we would get in return could be a near-MLB ready catching prospect, but there aren’t a lot of those to go around in the league right now. I’m also not the biggest fan of eating the contract of Hosmer while also trying to bid for Carlos Correa, but if it means we can get a solution to one of the most important roles in the clubhouse, it may just be worth more than the money.