With the trade of Miguel Montero to the Blue Jays, Willson Contreras’ primary backup at catcher has been rookie Victor Caratini. Caratini has played in just eight games since his callup, starting three, and has gone 3-for-16.
While Caratini might someday become a good big-league catcher, the Cubs could use a veteran to spell Contreras behind the plate from time to time. That would also give Caratini a few more weeks at Triple-A Iowa to start games and then he could return in September.
That’s why I think this rumor from a couple of days ago has pretty good credibility:
#Tigers, #Cubs staying in contact regarding possible Alex Avila trade; Avila's .938 OPS this year is best of any @MLB catcher (min. 100 PA).— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 18, 2017
The Tigers have already started the process of being sellers by trading J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks. Alex Avila, son of Tigers general manager Al Avila, is a free agent at the end of this season, and father already let son walk as a FA once, then signed him back. This way, he could do the same — trade him to the Cubs, get a prospect, then take him back next year.
In addition to Avila hitting well — he has 11 home runs in 195 at-bats — he’s also a strong defensive presence, throwing out 10 of 30 runners trying to steal (33 percent, a good figure). He’d be able to start a couple of days a week so Contreras doesn’t wear down in the summer heat.
If a deal for Avila doesn’t work out, there are a couple of other veteran catchers currently on teams far down in the standings who could be available. The Giants certainly don’t need Nick Hundley for the rest of this season and the 33-year-old is also hitting all right for a backup (.259/.284/.434, four HR in 147 AB). He has thrown out eight of 29 runners trying to steal (28 percent). And Caleb Joseph of the Orioles, who we saw play against the Cubs last weekend, is having a good offensive season (.299/.321/.461, four HR in 154 AB) and has thrown out eight of 35 trying to steal (23 percent).
Why not look at former Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy? Lucroy, according to this article, might be being showcased for trade with the Rangers having a down season. Lucroy isn’t hitting like he used to (.254/.298/.359 in 256 at-bats) but is throwing out 32 percent of baserunners (13 of 41).
Now that would be something — getting a former Brewer to try to pass the Brewers in the standings.
Contreras, incidentally, is at 31 percent (19 of 62). The N.L. average is 28 percent.
There are 11 days left till the trade deadline (3 p.m. CT, July 31) and I do think the Cubs will deal for a backup catcher. It shouldn’t cost too much either in prospects or cash, so let’s hope they can get it done soon.
As always, I leave it to you to make trade proposals in the comments.