While it certainly seemed the case last week, it wasn’t entirely certain, given how rapidly the transactions came down and how the information was all overlapping itself. But it seems clear now: the Chicago Cubs are, indeed, still pursuing veteran catcher David Ross after acquiring Miguel Montero.
That, per a report from Rob Bradford, who has Ross now down to the Cubs, the Red Sox, and the Padres in his decision on where to sign for 2015.
Ross, 37, has been a rumored Cubs target for several weeks now, and is a former Jon Lester catcher when the duo were in Boston (and, for the record, they had exceptional success when working together). Ross offers premium defensive and framing skills, a little bit of pop from the right-hand side, and a lot of veteran leadership in the clubhouse. He’s not going to win you many games with the bat, but the other stuff is what makes him an understandable target for the Cubs.
Does the pursuit of Ross post-Montero trade tell us anything about those Welington Castillo trade rumors? Well, here’s what I think: the Cubs are content to pair Montero and Castillo behind the plate in 2015, as they could form a superior tandem given the way their skills and bats complement each other. The pursuit of Ross, then, is about Ross, specifically, rather than a search for a “better” back-up catcher. I suspect the Cubs simply like what Ross brings to the table for this particular team, but, if they can’t land him, then they’ll likely go forward with Montero/Castillo. I could be very happy about that.
But what happens if the Cubs do get Ross?
Well, at that point, I think the possibility that the Cubs trade Castillo – be it in a deal for an outfield bat or another starter, or be it simply for the best prospect return the Cubs can find – ramps up considerably. While the Cubs do need additional catching depth, it’s very hard to carry three catchers on the big league roster in the National League when none of the three can play any other position. It’s not absolutely inconceivable, mind you, but it’s very difficult.
There are several avenues that this could play out, and several ways that the upshot could be a better overall Cubs roster/organization. For now, the first domino is where Ross decides to sign.