The Chicago Cubs have added a little catching depth to the organization, signing 26-year-old catcher Jair Fernandez to a minor league deal.
Fernandez played last year in the Houston Astros organization after coming up with the Twins and the Mariners. He spent most of the year in AA, and put up a decent .263/.336/.407 line, a touch better than his career averages. He is not, in case you were wondering, a former top prospect. For his career, he’s mostly been an organizational depth guy.
While you could point to the signing as an indication that the Cubs expect their upper level catching depth to take a hit – if, for example, Steve Clevenger were designated for assignment and waived (or traded) to clear up a roster spot – but I’m not so sure it means much. Presently, at the upper levels of the minors, the Cubs have just Chad Noble and Michael Brenly (they are fringier types who could see time at AA or AAA), as well as minor league signee/Spring Training invitee JC Boscan. Assuming Boscan doesn’t make the big league roster, he and Fernandez could split time at AAA, with Brenly potentially mixed in. The catching position is pretty thin in the upper levels of the Cubs’ system, and the move is probably simply designed to give the Cubs’ minor league teams some options.
Fernandez could also spend some time in AA, depending on how things shake out. Rafael Lopez and Micah Gibbs could potentially move up to AA, but the Cubs probably want to make sure they’ve got catching depth in case they want to take their time with younger backstops.
So, yeah. Not a huge move, but some additional depth in an area of need.