Chicago Cubs President Jed Hoyer said today that the team would be looking in free agency for another catcher now that Victor Caratini is off to San Diego, and Patrick Mooney already has the name of one target.
It’s actually a guy who has been connected to the Cubs in rumors several times over the years:
Also within this look at catching and post-Darvish plans: The Cubs have shown interest in Jason Castro as a potential replacement for Victor Caratini. https://t.co/vgYvbVMld4
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) December 31, 2020
In terms of next moves, the Cubs have shown interest in Jason Castro, sources said, viewing the veteran catcher as a good defender and a possible left-handed-hitting complement to Contreras. Castro — a one-time All-Star and former first-round pick out of Stanford — has gone to the playoffs with the Astros, Twins and Padres.
Jason Castro, 33, came up as an offensively-inclined former first round pick of the Astros, but within a few years, he’d actually broken out defensively, with the bat stabilizing as “solid for a catcher”:
In recent years, Castro’s glove rates out more like solid than elite, and the bat is probably more useful in a part-time role. That is to say, as a back-up to Willson Contreras, he’d actually be pretty darn great if you could get him. Yeah, you’ll have to live with his style – big power and walks, but tons of strikeouts and few balls in play – but when you’re talking about a back-up catcher with a good glove, the bat is kinda gravy.
For his career, the lefty-hitting Castro sports PRONOUNCED splits (.195/.262/.291, 53 wRC+ against lefties, .242/.328/.421, 105 wRC+ against righties), so you’d pretty much only want him starting against righties. The rub there is that, as the back-up catcher, you can’t always coordinate that as much as you’d like, because sometimes it’s more dictated by your OWN pitcher that day, rather than the opposing pitcher.
Still, on the balance, an accomplished veteran who was, until recently, a good starting catcher, who provides good offense (albeit with strikeouts aplenty) against righties and a solid glove? That’s a good back-up catcher. Definitely see why there’s interest in Castro.
Given what we expect from 2021, I wouldn’t hate letting P.J. Higgins or Taylor Gushue get a chance at the back-up job to maybe see if they can emerge as legit big league caliber back-ups, but it also wouldn’t hurt to let them start out splitting time at Iowa – there was no season last year! – and then reassess, assuming Castro isn’t too pricey.