With Dioner Navarro a free agent, Welington Castillo undergoing (minor-ish) knee surgery, and a cavernous void of MLB-ready catching talent, it’s no surprise that the Chicago Cubs are going to have to spend some money on catching this offseason.
But would you be surprised if the Cubs spent a lot of money on catching?
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes would no longer be surprised, after talking to “multiple agents” who say they expect the Cubs to spend “good money” on a free agent catcher this offseason.
Castillo, who is expected to long be over his knee issue by Spring Training, emerged as one of the top defensive catchers in baseball this year, and matched it with a solid offensive effort (.274/.349/.397). Absent a trade (or deep-seated organizational fear that his mid-.300s BABIP of the last two years is going to crater next year), he is clearly the starter heading into 2014. So what could spending big money on catching be about?
There will be some interesting options available. Brian McCann is the big name who will get big money. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is certainly an intriguing option after he finally seemed to put it together this year (of course, he, too, was blessed with an absurdly high BABIP (.372)). But would he settle for a job in which he’d be splitting time with Castillo? And would the Cubs want to pay “good money” for that kind of part-time duty?
To be sure, I do think the Cubs will spend relatively good money on a back-up catcher this offseason, given the dearth of reasonable options in the upper levels of their minor league system. But signing a starting-caliber option for $10s of millions? That’s harder to see. With limited resources this year, there appear to be better areas to upgrade and have more impact.
That all said: as it was with pitching, when this front office sees an organizational deficiency, they’re smart enough to know you have to add depth any way you can get it. Having Castillo, alone, isn’t enough to feel good about the Cubs’ catching situation going into 2014 or 2015.