In his latest piece over at The Athletic, Sahadev Sharma digs into an array of questions facing the Cubs offense outside of whether or not Jed Hoyer will bring Cody Bellinger back long-term. Among the topics he touches on is Chicago's catching plans heading into 2024.
Of course, change was the name of the game at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign, with longtime fan favorite Willson Contreras joining the rival St. Louis Cardinals on a five-year, $87.5 million deal. His first season with the Redbirds was... eventful, to say the least, but he finished strong with 3.4 bWAR and a 124 OPS+ in 125 games played.
Cubs feel good about catching situation with Yan Gomes, Miguel Amaya
Meanwhile, Chicago entered the year with a combination of Yan Gomes and Tucker Barnhart poised to handle the pitching staff. The former returned for his second year with the Cubs, while the latter - a two-time Gold Glover - joined the mix via free agency.
That signing proved to be ill-fated, with Barnhart getting released in August after mustering -0.4 bWAR, due largely to the fact he was a complete liability at the plate (48 OPS+). Thankfully, the unexpected ascent of former top prospect Miguel Amaya covered this misstep on the part of the front office as the Venezuelan native picked up the slack, learning the ropes from the seasoned veteran Gomes as the summer wore on.
Late in the season, as Amaya's bat went cold, David Ross went with Gomes on a near-daily basis - but the plan, according to Sharma, is to have this duo handle things (likely in a more balanced fashion) in 2024.
"Assuming they pick up his option — it would come as a surprise if they don’t — Gomes holding steady on offense would probably be a win for the Cubs. But it’s how Amaya develops that’s key. There is a chance the Cubs find another veteran to pair with Gomes, but right now Amaya looks like someone they’d like to see grow into the position on both sides."- Sahadev Sharma on Cubs' catching plans
The hope is Amaya takes that next step and emerges as the long-term solution behind the plate. After all, Gomes turns 37 next July. The organization is high on catching prospect Moises Ballesteros, but he's still a couple years away, at best. In the short-term, though, expect more of the same when it comes to the catcher position - and given the results this year, that's hardly a bad thing.