Cubs keep rolling with their 3 catcher philosophy in 2023
By Jake Misener
We'd all planned on Yan Gomes and newcomer Tucker Barnhart splitting catching duties fairly evenly this year, but the Cubs have also decided to carry a third backstop, Luis Torrens, on the Opening Day roster.
Torrens, a bat-first catcher, spent 2022 with the Mariners but is definitely not an everyday piece on a contender. Still, he adds depth at the position and, with the news that Triple-A backstop Dom Nunez suffered an injury this week, the Cubs might not have had a choice but to roster Torrens to keep him in the fold, as Brett over at Bleacher Nation pointed out.
Cubs rostering three catchers is nothing new - and dates back to 2015
I still suspect the Gomes-Barnhart tandem will carry the lion's share of innings behind the plate this season. Cubs pitchers and coaches have raved about the duo this spring and Gomes impressed with the bat in Cactus League action, to boot, a welcome surprise coming off a 75 OPS+ showing in 2022.
It's interesting to note this is far from the first time the Cubs have gone the three catcher route. In fact, it's become the norm on the North Side, dating back to 2015, when Chicago rostered David Ross, Miguel Montero and Wellington Castillo.
The future behind the plate is murky, at best, for the Cubs. Former top prospect Miguel Amaya will look to stay on the field and make meaningful strides in 2023 - but can no longer be considered a sure thing in any sense. Gomes is in the final guaranteed year of his deal (Cubs have a team option for 2024) and will be 36 in July, while Barnhart's deal covers 2023 with a player option for 2024.
Like I said, I don't view Torrens as an everyday guy - but depth is nice, especially when your two backstops have the number of innings on their bodies as Barnhart and Gomes do. Keeping them fresh and giving them a blow here and there could make a big difference, especially if the Cubs are playing meaningful games come September.