With Wilson Ramos signing a two-year deal with the New York Mets, another potential veteran backup to Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras disappears.
If you assume the Chicago Cubs aren’t betting their offseason on landing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, it stands to reason one of the items on their to-do list is bringing in a veteran backup catcher.
Willson Contreras seems to have the starting spot locked down heading into 2019, but the future of Victor Caratini is far from a sure thing. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican native struggled last year, appearing in 76 games for the Cubs, managing a measly .293 on-base percentage. To call him underwhelming at the dish doesn’t even come close to hitting the mark.
So let’s assume the team does move on from Caratini. They could package him in a trade for bullpen pieces or perhaps a backup veteran infielder. But if that’s how things play out, then Chicago needs someone to help lessen the load on Contreras.
Another name comes off the board
This weekend, another potential target found a new home when Wilson Ramos signed a two-year deal with a New York Mets team that’s looking more and more like a contender. Well, maybe not a contender, but at least they don’t seem destined to sit below .500 again in 2019.
Ramos was never going to take a backup role given the year he turned in with the Rays and Phillies last season. He hit .306 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI between the two squads and put up a career-best 135 OPS+ in 111 games. Pairing the veteran backstop with the Mets’ loaded staff should bode well.
Aside from Ramos, several other backstops have latched on with new clubs already this offseason, as well. Kurt Suzuki, Robinson Chirinos and Brian McCann have all inked new deals. So what options does that leave for Theo Epstein and the Cubs?
One name that could make sense? Longtime Dodgers backstop A.J. Ellis. At 38 years old, it’s unlikely anyone would cough up a multi-year offer for him and he’s always been regarded as a quality receiver behind the dish.
Someone like Carlos Corporan or Nick Hundley might work, as well. Really, though, there’s an important question at-hand here. Chicago needs to lighten the load for Contreras. He caught a career-high number of frames last year and his offense suffered in a big way – he put up some personal-lows in nearly every category.
There are still some names left on the table – but if the Cubs don’t act soon, they may be saddled with a catching duo that fell far short of meeting expectations last season.