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The Most Important Cubs Player, Open to Adding a Back-Up Catcher, Maybin Returns, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Sounds like they finally got that big ole boat unstuck, which means the end of the memes. I honestly did not see a single one that I didn’t like.

Oh, and I also saw a fun baseball-related factoid:

There is no chance there have been more than 2.6 billion baseball manufactured in the history of the world – I mean, I’m totally guessing, but the number is LARGE – so basically that boat could hold much more than every baseball ever made. That is a big boat.

Meanwhile …

•   This is a bold assertion, but I think it’s also probably accurate:

•   The article is full of praise for Contreras and his importance to the team, including a reminder on how important he is to the pitching staff:

“He’s an enormous part of the success of our pitching staff,” Tommy Hottovy said in an interview on Marquee Sports Network early in camp. “With the catchers every year — it starts and ends with them. We hold our catchers to such high standards and put so much on their plate for good reason because we know the impact that they have every game and with every pitcher that we have.

“Willson’s been in this organization and more importantly been around the major league infrastructure for a long time now. He’s continuing to grow and develop and show so much poise in high moments, understanding what he’s seeing from hitters, understanding what we want to do gameplan-wise. But then also what he’s seeing, what he’s getting from the pitcher, how he can make that pitcher the best version of himself that day and the feedback that he gives in between innings.

“…Our pitchers know that everything goes through the catching department. We trust those guys and we put a lot on their plate, so we obviously expect huge things from Willy. He’s an enormous part of the success of our pitching staff and especially the offensive side with what he can bring to the table. He’s such a dynamic weapon on both sides.”

•   Now consider, too, the drop-off from Contreras to his back-up (whoever it might be at any given time). There is not a position on the roster where the projected drop-off, in my mind, would be as steep, and it is in that way that you can easily argue Contreras is the Cubs’ most important player for 2021. Losing Javy Báez, for example, would be brutal in defensive value and the upside in his bat, but would the total drop-off to, say, Nico Hoerner, be worse than the drop from Contreras to P.J. Higgins or Austin Romine? When you consider Contreras’s bat, defense, framing, and game-planning/execution work? Ditto losing any other really impactful positional guy, where the Cubs can at least slide in – or coordinate in – a decent replacement. (Heck, I might even include the pitching stuff, though Kyle Hendricks might be the closest call.) Lordy I hope the Cubs can keep Contreras healthy.

•   Speaking of catchers and health, we know that Austin Romine (knee) isn’t going to be ready to start the regular season on time. That means, among players currently in camp, P.J. Higgins will be the back-up catcher. Except … when the Cubs finalized the rest of the roster this weekend, including making necessary 40-man moves, they did not make any kind of official decision on Romine/Higgins. So then, even if the Cubs didn’t say it explicitly, that means they are seeing what happens in other camps to decide what to do with their back-up catcher spot (which means, in turn, that they are clearly not 100% sold on Higgins being ready to be a big-league back-up catcher). Keep your eyes on the transaction wire.

•   Here’s how David Ross talked about the back-up catcher spot, if you had any questions about whether it’s settled (Cubs.com): “It’s still a little bit up in the air,” Ross said. “We’re trying to get right up to the end and see how things shake out.” So, again: keep your eyes on the transaction wire.

•   With Cameron Maybin returning on a minor league deal a day after the Cubs released him, we could guess that it was a planned release and re-signing, probably to get around having to pay him the $100,000 retention bonus that automatically comes with veteran minor league deals (his agent may have also made some quick phone calls but didn’t find anything else better). Could be that, in exchange, Maybin got an earlier opt-out date (usually it’s June 1), and maybe even got some kind of assurance that he’s highly likely to be brought up to the big leagues around X or Y date when Thing A or Thing B happens elsewhere on the roster. Whatever made it happen, I’m glad it did. Very good to have him still available as outfield/bench depth. I like him. Just a good, steady, average-ish player.

•   Great news here on Wick, who almost certainly is no longer a 60-day IL consideration:

•   I wonder if Holder is a 60-day consideration, though, if the Cubs need a 40-man spot for a catcher (Higgins is not on the 40-man). It’s also possible Romine, himself, would go on the 60-day IL.

•   The Cubs have a new legacy partner in Horizon Therapeutics, which will replace the NUVEEN sign in left – you can see the new sign if you zoom in on Sean Marshall’s recent shot of Wrigley.

•   Reese Eggs, other Easter candy, Play-doh, NERF, and more are your fun Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.