Chicago Cubs Rumors: Team eyeing several defensive minded catchers

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Guardians
Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Guardians / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Chicago Cubs finalized their biggest offseason move on Saturday as the team agreed to terms on a 7-year deal with free-agent shortstop Dansby Swanson worth $177MM. As the team was approaching the finish line with Swanson, it is likely that they put their other pursuits on hold in order to focus on landing their prized shortstop. Moving forward, the Cubs still have a need for a catcher to pair with Yan Gomes and the belief is the team is prioritizing defense at the position. The latest names in which the Cubs are looking to pair with veteran Yan Gomes were revealed in Patrick Mooney's latest with The Athletic.

"The Cubs are looking for a defense-first catcher — Tucker Barnhart, Curt Casali and Roberto Perez are among the names under consideration — to share the workload with Yan Gomes and help replace Contreras."

Patrick Mooney, The Athletic

Tucker Barnhart has been connected to the Cubs in each of the past two offseasons but is coming off a down year with the Detroit Tigers in 2022. Barnhart slashed .221/.287/.267/.554 in 308 plate appearances. Barnhart's defensive skills regressed in 2022 as well as FanGraphs placed a -2.3 rating on his framing skills in 778 innings caught last season.

Curt Casali didn't fare any better than Barnhart in 2022 in regard to his offensive production during his time with the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners. Casali slashed .203/.318/.331/.649 in 176 plate appearances. FanGraphs placed a -2.9 value on his framing skills in 421 innings caught.

Roberto Perez, meanwhile, had a 1.5 rating on his pitch-framing skills in 159 innings caught with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Perez also spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Cleveland Guardians so there is a connection with Cubs' general manager Carter Hawkins. Perez slashed .233/.333/.367/.700 in 69 plate appearances and had a 102 wRC+.

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It certainly would be wise for the Cubs to add another catcher to the mix this offseason as it seems unlikely that Gomes would be able to handle the bulk of the duties in 2023. Perez may be the name to watch considering his proficiency in pitch-framing.