Willson Contreras is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, is developing a rapport with his pitchers, and seems to get better defensively every week.
But the Cubs aren’t going to be able to ride him too hard down the stretch, which means a steady, capable, back-up presence is going to be necessary. Right now, the back-up catcher is youngster Victor Caratini, who is inarguably talented, but having him in that role while he’s still developing is a lot to put on his plate.
That is all to say, I remain very much of the mind that the Cubs need to acquire a veteran back-up catcher to replace the one they lost when Miguel Montero went rogue.
The only catcher to whom the Cubs have been publicly connected in rumors is Tigers backstop Alex Avila, who has been in the midst of a big-time bounce back year in Detroit. And, according to Jon Morosi, that connection continues:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 18, 2017
You can read our earlier writeup on the Avila trade rumor for our take on him, but the short version is: he’s hitting extremely well this year, is capable defensively, comes with a lot of injury issues in the past, and doesn’t make much in salary this year before reaching free agency.
Avila, who bats lefty, is hitting .292/.420/.518, and has already been worth 2.3 WAR.
If that all sounds attractive, well, it should. But the thing is … it’s almost too attractive for a back-up catcher. The price tag Avila commands on the trade market is going to be more in line with a very good starting catcher rental, which might be more than the Cubs want to pay for a guy who would start, at the absolute most, 50% of the time (and, realistically, it would be a lot less than that).
We’ll continue to monitor this one, because again, Avila is a great fit for the Cubs in so many ways. It just seems like there’s going to be a more aggressive trade partner out there that doesn’t have a starter like Willson Contreras.