It’s a transaction! And it’s connected to the Cubs in a tangible way! It’s like Christmas all over again!
The transaction, itself, is not of overwhelming consequence, though it is notable:
Today, the #Angels agreed to terms on a one-year contract with catcher Rene Rivera. In a corresponding move, LHP Nate Smith has been designated for assignment.
— Angels (@Angels) January 10, 2018
Rivera, of course, became the Cubs’ back-up catcher in mid-August when he was claimed off of waivers from the Mets. At the time, the Cubs were without Willson Contreras, and Alex Avila had taken over as the starter. An ever-steady defensive catcher with good framing skills and the ability to hit left pitching, Rivera was an excellent back-up, and would have been a fine piece to return to the Cubs in 2018.
But, instead, he’ll head off to join the Angels.
For the Cubs, then, they will continue to consider their catching options. It remains possible that they’ll make no additions, utilizing youngster Victor Caratini as the back-up behind Contreras, with perhaps Kyle Schwarber sprinkled in very sparingly. It still feels, though, like having a true veteran back-up would be ideal. If the Cubs could get Avila to return on a very affordable deal, you’d be thrilled to have his lefty bat sticking around, even if there were some trade-offs behind the plate.
Other veteran free agents types include Chris Stewart, A.J. Ellis, and old friends Geovany Soto and Miguel Montero. Rivera, in that role, was probably the best of the bunch.
The Cubs are fortunate to have a number of other potential future big league catchers coming up in the pipeline, though relying on Contreras, Caratini, and other youngsters to handle the entirety of the catching load is a big ask for a playoff contender.
All the best to Rivera, and thanks for that grand slam.
[***SITE NOTE***: Yes, I’m repeating myself again, but I want to make sure people see this. If you’ve been having issues with the BN home page not showing you the latest posts, make sure you clear your browser cache completely (not just refreshing the page). I am currently working on attempted fixes behind the scenes – it is an especially tricky, frustrating issue – but clearing your browser cache will make sure the “fixes” show up on your end.]