The Chicago Cubs are looking for a “defense-first catcher,” reports Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, with Mooney linking the team to free agents Curt Casali, Tucker Barnhart, and Roberto Perez. Michael Cerami of Bleacher Nation has also recently connected the club to Barnhart in a platoon role with incumbent Yan Gomes.
The Cubs currently only have two catchers on their 40-man roster, prospect Miguel Amaya, who reached Double-A Tennessee in 2022 and is projected to debut during the 2023 season, and 11-year veteran Gomes. Gomes, who signed a two-year, $13MM deal during the 2021 offseason, with a $6MM player option for the 2024 season, hit .235/.260/.365 in a complementary role to All-Star Willson Contreras during his first season in Chicago. P.J. Higgins also saw time behind the dish during the 2022 season, hitting .229/.310/.383 in 229 plate appearances, and has the ability to plan all around the infield.
Nevertheless, the recent additions of Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon, Brad Boxberger, and Cody Bellinger, along with their reported re-signing of Drew Smyly, signal an intent to compete in 2023 after finishing third in their division last season. With the free agent catcher market rapidly shrinking, Casali, Barnhart, and Perez profile as veteran regulars that won’t command long-term contracts and delay Amaya’s promotion.
Casali was limited to only 57 games during the 2022 season, spending time on the injured list with a concussion and right oblique strain. Over 176 plate appearances, the 34-year-old hit a weak .203/.318/.331 with a high 28.4% strikeout rate but a strong 13.6% walk rate. Casali is a career .223/.316/.392 hitter over parts of nine seasons and is credited with 16 defensive runs saved since 2014, in addition to throwing out 32% of runners and drawing positive marks for his framing ability.
Barnhart joined the Tigers via trade after the 2021 season and struggled to a .221/.287/.267 slash line with a 24% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate in 2022. It’s a sharp drop off from his career numbers of .245/.320/.360, and his strong 2017 showing (.270/.347/.403) is slowly becoming a distant memory. Like Casali, Barnhart is typically viewed positively for his defensive ability, earning a total of 12 DRS over nine seasons, despite being credited -8 DRS during the 2022 season, while throwing out 32% of runners. Barnhart also ranks highly for his framing ability.
Perez suffered a left hamstring strain in early May and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery later in the month. It marks the second consecutive injury-ravaged year for Perez, who was limited to only 44 games with Cleveland during the 2021 season due to a pair of IL stints (a fractured right finger and shoulder inflammation). Like Casali and Barnhart, Perez is a glove-first catcher, with a meager career slash line of .207/.298/.360, but he has accumulated a whopping 79 DRS since 2014 while throwing out 39% of would-be runners and possesses a highly regarded framing ability.
The Cubs’ will likely struggle to fill Contreras’s offensive production from the catching position, but the franchise will hope that recent additions of Swanson and Bellinger, as well as prospects Brennen Davis and Matt Mervis settling in at the Major League level, will help fill the All-Star size hole behind the dish at Wrigley Field.
Going with the theme of defense, Austin Hedges would of made a lot of sense.
Guess the Cubs got outbid by the Pirates LOL
That’s why he said WOULD of…
Grammar police. My bad
Just maybe Hedges didn’t want to play for the Cubs
Shock, just ignore TheMan3. Constant, inaccurate statements based on an overwhelming disdain for one owner who lives rent free in his little head.
if he had wanted to play for the Cubs, his agent would have negotiated a deal
All three are good defensive catchers. Defense up the middle is an age old formula for a winning team.
I think its a 2024 team option for Yan Gomes, not player
PJ Higgins is on the roster and is currently the backup to Gomes.
if he can stay healthy and that’s a big “if”, Roberto Pérez is a great defensive catcher
Perez would be my first choice out of the the 3.
That would certainly be de ja vu for Perez and Gomes
Going with the theme of good-looks, Curt Casali would of made a lot of sense.
Hoping he signs with my Tigers
But does he have an ugly girlfriend?
Gmen would be crazy to not resign Casali. I don’t care if he bats .180 he’s worth 3-4 shutouts/wins a year.
If you really want to stay with that theme calling the Yankees about Ben Rortvedt would be a good idea. He is a solid defensive catcher with a decent hit tool for a backup catcher. Doesn’t have much pop for as big as his upper body is. Bat speed seems a bit slow. With Trevino taking the starting spot and Higashioka being Cole’s catcher of choice, Rortvedt might be available. He is still on his rookie contract and will give the Cubs lots of certainty in their backup catcher for the next half decade. The right hitting coach could unlock some additional power and turn him into a starter. He shouldn’t cost much to acquire and would be a nice addition.
Pretty clear the writer is not familiar with the Cubs. Nobody in that organization is expecting Amaya to contribute at all this season, coming off of TJ surgery. He was forced to DH last year in very little at bats. Cubs would be fortunate to just get him to AAA this season.
Also, no mention of Matt Mervis for the 2023 season. Throwing in Davis’ at the end of this article is also strange. Best case scenario would be a mid summer call up if his back holds up.
Writer of the article never mentions PJ Higgins either – who didn’t do a bad job last season as a backup C.
Yeah I found that bit and the end about Brennan a bit out of touch. His health is the primary reason the Cubs had to go out and sign Belli. Had he finished strong in AFL, Cubs may have grabbed a AAAA guy with a solid glove as insurance but wouldn’t have done much in CF.
Hoping Mervis mashes his way thru ST and gets to Chicago early next year. Would be great if we could fill that position internally and get some real offensive production from inside the system.
Chicago Cubs should trade Ian Happ for James McCann straight up.
Cubs have payroll space to do this.
It’s a winner Jed and Tommy R
Lol no chance. Jansen? Maybe.
@LogisticsGuy What the… LOL. No.
Thats the dumbest trade ever
That will happen right after the Mets trade Baty to Dodgers for Heyward and Zimmer.
You’re more likely to get JA Happ in return for McCann
The Mets don’t want McCann. Why would anybody else? It’s not like they’re really worried about the money or anything. Seriously? They wanna get rid of him because he cratered.
Seriously, several teams would seriously consider McCann at the major league minimum if he passes waivers. McCann is a passable defensive catcher which is a useful backup to have. But no team would trade a player of value for McCann. At most, the acquiring team might agree to take on a couple million of the $24 million the Mets owe McCann.
The Mets do have a catcher where the Cubs would deal Happ in a straight-up trade, his name is Francisco Alvarez. Mets’ fans would laugh at acquiring one year of Happ for many years of Alvarez just like the rest of the world laughs at Happ for McCann.
Sure because the Cubs exist to make Cohen’s life easier. I thought that was what the Pirates and A’s existed for. They get ecstatic when rich dumb people pay to dump their crap on them. Free salaries!
I would offer a major league contract to Casali at the league minimum.
No chance, sorry.
It’s sad not one person knows he’s joking.
If “not one person” knows he’s joking, and he is himself “a person”, then it means he does not know he is joking. Therefore, logic dictates that he is not joking.
You know what I’m saying, stop trying to twist my mind into a pretzel lol. Grammer aside it’s still crazy to me so many people thought the OP was being serious.
Sure thing Met fan. I don’t think the Cubs will be trading with the Mets anytime soon due to last years conversations at the trade deadline.
One of the Jays catchers would make sense. All are above average in both offense and defense. Jansen, at a manageable 2yrs of control, might be the best bet there cost wise.
I think Happ for Jansen is a real possibility but it would be a lateral move for cubs. Locking up Happ would be wise with PCA and Alcantara years away & Davis’ long term health in question.
As a switch hitter Happ at least solves the Blue Jays need for more offense from the left side (on most days). Problem is the Cubs are all of a sudden not looking terrible and could be a dark horse playoff comtender with another couple of moves (Eric Hosmer makes a ton of sense here), they may not want to move Happ when there are options available for just money
I’m not Happ’s biggest fan but a SH, All Star LF should bring more than an average catcher back in a trade. But keep dreaming, It’s what built America. The only way they trade Happ now is if they think Davis can be the full time LF. And only the biggest optimist on the planet would think that.
As the article points out, the Cubs are looking for someone to share the position with Gomes.
The price asked by the Jays for anyone of their catchers is based on him being their primary catcher.
James McCann of the Mets plays his best sharing the catchers position. If Mr. Moneybags will eat some of that contract, the Cubs can give him a body in return and the Mets open up a roster spot.
Except McCann S*CKS. Like a Hoover. You keep him. I don’t care how much you eat. Somebody else has to WANT him and nobody does.
The cubs just dropped nearly 300 million dollars. They aren’t trading their 3 hole hitter
I think that is exactly what they are going to try to do. At least they should.
The McCanniacs will be displeased by this Cubbie shopping list
The article was about free agents. McCann is not. A trade can be worked out (see my post above).
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Did the Cubs designate PJ Higgins? He was their #3 catcher for most of last season.
No, he’s still around. The writer of this article must not have looked at the roster.
Last I looked, they had Higgins listed as an infielder on mlb.com. So clearly, if the writer looked at the roster, he is not terribly familiar w the Cubs- which is nbd, not being familiar with a 3rd-string catcher that also plays other positions.
Sign Tucker Barnhart and be done with it.
Cubs need a first baseman, catcher and I don’t like Wisdom at third base. This team is still not a contender even in a bad division IMO.
Justin Turner and a back up catcher would be nice. You can platoon wisdom/Mervis and Turner/Wisdom and bounce them all around dh spot.
Hosmer at 1B, Morel or Horner at 3B, Barnhart for backup/platoon Catcher, and Wisdom as a DH and its not looking too bad
Morel is not gonna do anything but back up. Hoerner will be at 2nd. Mervis will split time with a Mancini or Wisdom at 1st.
Gee, I wonder why the Red Sox Fan wants to stick the Cubs with their lame 1B. What could the reason be………. Ah I got nothin.
Hosmer was dfa’d. He’s still productive and only 33. They would only have to pay him the league minimum because San Diego is paying his entire salary. I just think it would be a good stop Gap move until we work in mervis.
Which means he can still be traded for 10 days. What’s your point? Mine is still the same, the Red Sox fan wants a sucker.
I don’t honestly believe Hosmer will be traded because Bloom said they already tried, Hosmer’s no trade clause complicates that. He will be released and free to sign anywhere, no suckers needed…
Judge’s HR Ball goes for $1.5 M The owner was offered $3M. Oh Well
Signing Perez would eliminate the possibility of facing Mr. October himself in the World Series again
A lot of Higgins mentions here. His framing numbers were solid but he could not call a game. ERA was high when he caught. Negative DRS as well. He’s an emergency catcher at best
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I don’t think anybody wants him to be the starter, but just that the author made an omission.
Let’s get real here. Higgins has gotten better as a C each year, But he was another guy the Cubs moved from 3B to C so he hasn’t been at it all that long. I’m sure the plan is, To sign or trade for a ML Catcher and have Amaya and Higgins start at Iowa. Higgins still has options left and Amaya hasn’t caught a game in 3 years due to TJ surgery and a Lisfranc injury last year he got as a freakin DH. I highly doubt he’s in the Cubs catching plans for 2023. I know he’s not in mine. Plus let’s not forget who Higgins manager is, David Ross who was a fantastic C. The 40 man is littered with dead weight, IMO anyway but the Cubs seem to prefer keeping guys like Mckinstry, Rivas and Mastrobouni who they collected off other teams scrap heaps. Plus they have a few guys who will hit the 60 day but can’t be put there until spring starts so it’s a 40 man dance at the moment, As it is for every club.
I’ll be shocked if Soto or Davis ever see Wrigley this year.
Soto? Who’s dat?
Wally Soto, catcher they signed in 2020, thinks he’s in A ball.
My bad. Meant Amaya. I think I channeled Geovany Soto! And no, I doubt if he see Wrigley this year either!
Tucker Barnhart would be my choice. Two gold gloves, put him back in the NL Central and his bat will come back around
Mine too. Seems like the best candidate for a bounce back.
This would carry more weight had they still been playing a severely unbalanced schedule, but about 20 games that would’ve been against the NL central will now be against other AL teams.
I’m on the Barnhart wagon too.
Good defensively, extrapolate his numbers over 162 and he’s a .250 hitter, 10 bombs. He and Gomes can capably hold down the fort.
According to multiple sources James McCann from the Mets is available in a trade, he has two years on his contract at $10M a year.
McCann isn’t worth it.
Isn’t Jorge Alfaro available?
Yes, but they want a good defensive C, so he’s not in consideration.
I was like, got dayum Max Muncy slimmed down!
I thought Giants would be locking up casali as he was very good with their pitching staff
Give PJ the catching job. He’s proven he’s solid defensively and his hitting will continue to improve.
Cubs also need to pick up Hosmer. They’d get him for the league minimum, he’s a left handed bat, and a solid veteran. He’d be the perfect 1B placeholder for Mervis.
Also, sign Brandon Drury (all star last season) to play 3B and either trade Wisdom or be an IF/OF back up. This would be a pretty good line-up now. See below (no particular batting order).
Not much. BIG NO to Hosmer, Drury- too much money for not enough production, Higgins not ready for a full time gig, Best fit as Iowa C and emergency option. Mervis will be up whenever he’s eligible for the extra Arb year, Mancini would be better as a short term and RH 1B early- then DH later. Barnhart is a nice ML Catcher who will help bridge to Aliendo, Opitz and Ballesteros, Quintero for the short term. Happ, Bellinger and Mervis gives the Cubs 3 LH.
C- Gomes /Barnhart
1B Mervis /Mancini
SS- Swanson/ Hoerner/ Morel
3B- Wisdom/ Morel
LF- Happ/ Davis/ Morel
CF- Bellinger/ Morel
RF- Suzuki/ Velasquez/ Morel
Then with their pitching, You can win the division.
Your Cubs have made some nice moves, but if you grade hitters on a 1-10 scale; you have a bunch of 6’s and 7’s and no 8’s or 9’s.
I still think you can compete in a weak division, just gotta sign or trade or have that middle order bat in the upper minors.
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First order of business is to get 9 of the ten starting position players to the 5-7 range. No Villars… (Bellinger is tenth and is either a 3 or an 8). Then look at improvement via trades and their prospects.