In his first full big league season, Victor Caratini fell flat. Many wonder whether the Chicago Cubs will stick with him as a backup catcher moving forward.
Despite that belief, can you really call 2018 a full season if you’re evaluating Victor Caratini. It seemed as if the Chicago Cubs didn’t tap into their bench in terms of catching like they had in years past. Caratini saw just 200 plate appearances, compared to Willson Contreras‘ 544.
Caratini began the season with the Cubs but was demoted in favor of Chris Gimenez in late May. The young switch-hitting catcher wasn’t affecting much offensively and the Cubs wanted him to get consistent at-bats in Iowa. In 69 plate appearances, Caratini only posted a .612 OPS in Chicago.
The Gimenez project didn’t work out at all, leading to Caratini’s increased role when he was recalled from Triple-A Iowa in July and Gimenez was designated for assignment. Caratini’s struggles continued as he finished the season hitting .232 in a limited role.
Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and the rest of the organizational leadership now have a question that needs answering. Do they believe Victor Caratini is a legitimate big league backstop?
In the last few years, Caratini ranked as was one of their highly-regarded prospects. But in limited sample sizes, we haven’t seen much in terms of consistent success.
With the Cubs’ window of playing competitive baseball wide open, the front office isn’t waiting for his development as they did for Javier Baez, for example, especially when Contreras is clearly the starting catcher for the foreseeable future.
The Cubs need a proven backstop that could help give Contreras more rest. He ranks poorly in Runs Above Average (RAA), a StatCorner stat which measures how the number of calls from an umpire a catcher does or does not get that generates runs.
Here are four possibilities.