After struggling last season as the backup to Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs catcher Victor Caratini is looking to take a big step forward in 2019.
I’ll be the first to admit – I headed into the offseason with ‘backup catcher’ near the top of my wish list when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. After Willson Contreras struggled badly on both sides of the ball in 2018, I felt that a quality backup to share the load with could help him get back on track.
In recent years, Chicago relied heavily upon veteran catchers to split the load with Contreras – a trend that dates back to his making his big league debut back in 2016. Then, it was David Ross and Miguel Montero. Then, that shifted to Montero, Alex Avila and Rene Rivera last year. In 2018, though, the Cubs tapped young Victor Caratini as the club’s primary backup.
And to say that plan didn’t go quite as anticipated is fair. Contreras put up some of the worst numbers of his career – both defensively and offensively – and Caratini put up a -0.1 WAR in 181 at-bats.
But playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Caratini seems to have found his stroke at the dish. Can his success carry over into 2019 at the big league level or is he destined for the label of a AAAA player?