Christian Vazquez is the two-way catcher the Cubs need to land
Fresh off a World Series win in Houston, Christian Vazquez has been a rumored target for the Chicago Cubs at the catcher position since the club decided to depart with former All-Star, Willson Contreras. Although he's not the only catcher to be connected to the Cubs as of late, it serves as another reminder in the ongoing rumor mill that the Cubs are actually taking this free agency seriously and want to make a couple of splashes to immediately improve the roster and compete in 2023. Picking up Christian Vazquez not only does just that, but also puts more of an emphasis on defense rather than just offense at the catcher position moving forward. When Jed Hoyer says the position is a "two-way position", this is the type of guy he's referring to.
Love defense? Vazquez currently ranks 7th among active catchers with a caught stealing percentage of 33.97%. For those interested, Willson Contreras ranks just 15th overall. Right behind Vazquez at #9 is Yan Gomes. Obviously, the defense has become more of an emphasis behind the plate, and not to speculate too much here but when you see a middle-of-the-pack number for Contreras, fan favorite or not when thinking of the betterment of the team, It's safe to say Vazquez at the very least has the potential to be an upgrade over him.
Offensively? Vazquez is one of the better catchers in the game. He finished 2022 with a line of .274/.315/.399 to go along with 9 HR and 52 driven in. Where he might not hit as many home runs, he will make up for in average and on-base percentage, as his career line is .261/.310/.386. He has reached at least .270 four times in his 8 years in the big leagues. He has been dependable for at least around 400 ABs for the last 3 years, minus 2020 due to the pandemic.
Christian Vazquez is exactly what the Chicago Cubs need at the catching position.
Side note, I love that Vazquez has two world series rings already in his career. That means he comes with incredibly valuable playoff experience which is one category that the Cubs could use a whole lot more of. In his 31-game postseason career, he has a slash of .250/.296/.337, which isn't incredible, but certainly not terrible either. Nevertheless, Vazquez's two-way abilities on the field and hitting make him the perfect candidate that Jed Hoyer and co. have mentioned that they are looking for.
Contract-wise, Vazquez is projected in the realm of 2 years/16.0MM, which is a bargain for a team like the Cubs who would have paid Contreras just north of 19MM on a one-year deal had he accepted the qualifying offer. This is going to be another one of the times where his AAV might get raised a little higher than projected due to a bidding war to acquire his services. Still, this is a move the Cubs need to make and be ready to spend up for. The Cubs will still be a couple of bats short of having a very solid lineup, but Christian Vazquez can certainly help to alleviate any steep drop-offs toward the end of the order.