The injuries keep piling up around baseball, and the Chicago Cubs’ relative health makes them a continued source of trade rumors.
The latest is yet another Rangers rumor (we probably could have noted a couple concerning the Jurickson Profar injury, too) tied to yet another Rangers injury. Former Cub Geovany Soto tore his meniscus, and is expected to miss 10 to 12 weeks at the start of the season. That has reportedly led them calling around baseball about replacement options, and Bruce Levine reports that one of those calls came to the Cubs about George Kottaras (metaphorically speaking, at least). Levine says the Rangers are “taking a hard look” at Kottaras.
Earlier today, when breaking down the Cubs’ roster situation, I said that the only way the Cubs would carry someone like John Baker, a catcher currently in camp on a minor league deal, is if there was an injury or trade. Well, perhaps the folks whispering that Baker could stick around knew that Kottaras’s name had come up in trade talks?
Unless the return is legitimately good, I’m not so sure I’m eager to see the Cubs deal Kottaras. Not only am I a fan of what he brings to the table (discipline, power, upside, and a second year of control after this year), but the Cubs are super thin in the upper levels on the catching side. I know, I know, 2014 is a punt year, and if you can capture value now, you do so. But Kottaras could be back next year (which may not be so punt-y), and the Cubs are one serious Welington Castillo injury away from a nightmare scenario behind the plate for the foreseeable future. (Also, I know it’s small, but there’s still a teeny, tiny chance for 2014. Kottaras feels like the kind of guy you keep in that situation, because it’s not like he’s going to return an overwhelming prospect package. And he’s not really easily replaceable internally.)
Now, I don’t want to overstate Kottaras’s value here. This is a guy whom the Cubs got for cash last Fall. That said, in a league where there’s virtually no offense available behind the plate, Kottaras can provide some. And, on a team like the Rangers, he represents a significant upgrade from where they are right now.
If the Cubs could, for example, package Kottaras with an infielder (to replace Profar temporarily) and pick up a legitimate pitching prospect, then, sure, you pull the trigger. I’m not sure the Cubs will find that level of deal available, though. One thing working in favor of a deal: these two teams have dealt with each other repeatedly over the last two years, so they know where the other stands on a number of prospects. Of course, maybe GM Jon Daniels isn’t too crazy about dealing with Theo and Jed after the way the Matt Garza deal turned out.
The Rangers are probably checking in with a lot of teams about a lot of players – catchers, infielders, pitchers – right now. This may be no more than a brief call to see what’s up, and nothing more comes of it.