Not the Padres.
According to Ken Rosenthal, catcher David Ross – who seemed like a near lock to the Chicago Cubs before today’s craziness to the contrary – has agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal with the Cubs. That’s the going rate for good back-up catchers, which Ross is, so the deal sounds just fine to me.
As for whether adding Ross, in general, sounds fine, well, I land pretty much on the yeah-probably side of the fence, where I’ve been throughout the process. On the one hand, Ross, 37, is a great back-up with exceptional defensive and receiving skills, and can still hit reasonably well for a back-up. He’s great in the clubhouse, he’s got a relationship with Jon Lester, etc. This is a good fit.
On the other hand, I still like me some Welington Castillo. No, he can’t frame, and yes, that’s a big deal. But he does everything else so well that I was interested to see how he could evolve while paired with Miguel Montero.
That, now, seems very unlikely to happen. With Ross in the fold – assuming the report is accurate – the Cubs will strongly consider dealing Castillo, whose value on the market is going to be much higher than it is to the Cubs as a third catcher.* So there’s your other reason that signing Ross is a good thing: it creates a valuable trade asset in Castillo.
*(Also: there’s just no way the Cubs carry three catchers on the big league roster. Even if they went with only seven pitchers in the bullpen, that leaves five spots on the bench. Two of those five are going to go to catchers who can only catch? I don’t see it.)
On the balance? Getting Ross on this kind of deal is probably a net positive (which is why the Cubs are pursuing it), even if you like Castillo. It’s just that going with Castillo as the back-up wasn’t a terrible option, either.
And if the Cubs go with Montero/Ross behind the plate this year, you’ll probably find no one happier than Cubs pitchers, who stand to gain a whooooole lot of extra strikes in 2015. That might be the best framing tandem in baseball.
As for the other catcher the Cubs added today, Ryan Lavarnway, now we find out if he was Ross insurance, or regardless-of-anything-else depth. The Cubs could move someone else off of the 40-man roster to add Ross, and hang onto Lavarnway for now. I tend to like that idea.