When the Cubs traded for catcher George Kottaras earlier this offseason, it seemed like they were done bringing in MLB-level catchers on big league deals. Kottaras could ably backup Welington Castillo, and the Cubs could set about accumulating emergency depth at AAA, where the system is incredibly thin in the catching ranks.
But Mark Feinsand reports that, despite the two catchers already present, the Cubs are interested in catcher Kurt Suzuki.
Patrick Mooney actually reported the Cubs’ interest in Suzuki back in November, at a time when he seemed like a back-up option, rather than a third option. Here’s what I wrote about Suzuki at the time:
In that vein, Patrick Mooney reports that the Cubs are looking at veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki. The 30-year-old is a free agent after spending the last two years splitting time between the Nationals and A’s. Never a big stick, Suzuki was once an above-average offensive catcher, but those days seem to be far behind him with back-to-back sub-75 OPS+ seasons. Worse, he hasn’t seen his OBP over .300 since 2011 (and, even then, it was just .301, with a .303 mark the year before).
But you aren’t getting Suzuki for his bat, as is the case with most back-up catchers. He’s considered a quality defender behind the plate, and a good presence both with the pitching staff and younger players. At a minimal price, there would be nothing wrong with bringing Suzuki into the fold. Welington Castillo had minor knee surgery following the season, so maybe there’s all the more reason to make sure there’s a quality back-up in place.
That’s all still true, of course, but it calls into question whether Suzuki is somehow unable to find a big league deal, or – less likely – if the Cubs are considering carrying three catchers on the roster. Even less likely still is the possibility that the Cubs would sign Suzuki to back-up Kottaras in the event of a Castillo trade. I tend to think the Cubs are probably keeping in contact with Suzuki in case he can’t find a big league deal.
To the extent Suzuki is considering a minor league deal, then surely he makes a ton of sense. As things stand, the Cubs have just Castillo and Kottaras as legitimate options behind the plate, with guys like Eli Whiteside, John Baker, and Charles Cutler – none of whom would make you feel particularly confident as a fill-in starter. Having Suzuki as depth at AAA? That’s about as good as a third catching option gets, even if the bat is very light.