Today’s Penning Bull covers the Cubs’ side of the trade that sent Martín Maldonado to Chicago in exchange for fellow double-M Mike Montgomery. It also touches on the Royals swapping Homer Bailey to the A’s. Here’s an excerpt, on how the Cubs will juggle Maldonado, Willson Contreras, and Victor Caratini:
Something about the timing and nature of this move has people thinking it means something bigger. There had already been whispers that the team would treat Caratini as a trade chip; those whispers have given way to full-throated discussion. A frequent line of thinking on Twitter right now is that when Contreras is ready to return (technically, just before the deadline), the room on the roster will come from a deal that jettisons Caratini in exchange for the relief upgrade the Cubs sorely need.
I don’t view it that way. In every season of the Joe Madden era, the Cubs have carried three catchers at certain points. In 2015, they opened with Wellington Castillo as an ill-fitting spare part alongside Miguel Montero and David Ross. Later that season, with Castillo long traded, the team brought Kyle Schwarber up to join the rotation of catchers, moonlighting there while also getting at-bats as a left fielder. In 2016, they opened with the notion of Schwarber serving as a third catcher again. He went down for the year in the second series, but by mid-June, Contreras had come up, and he would take time from both Montero and Ross (along with some outfield work of his own) throughout the second half and the postseason. In 2017, they started with just Montero and Contreras, and after Montero was cut in a fit of pique in June, Madden quickly began riding Contreras too hard. The front office dealt for Alex Avila in July, to ameliorate that state of affairs, and then in August, they traded for Rene Rivera to provide depth in September. Last year, they carried Chris Gimenez for about half the season, kept Taylor Davis on call in Iowa, and swapped Gimenez for Bobby Wilson as an emergency option down the stretch.
I think the Cubs will listen if a team makes an exceptionally attractive offer for Caratini, but I don’t think they plan to move him. I think they want Maldonado to stabilize the run-prevention infrastructure a bit, and be a veteran voice for the catching cadre.
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