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The Cubs should trade Tyler Chatwood for Russell Martin

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This deal would make sense for both teams.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last August, I proposed here dealing Tyler Chatwood to the Rockies for Wade Davis.

Not long after that, I proposed swapping him to the Yankees for Sonny Gray. Not satisfied with doing that once, I brought it up again two weeks ago. (Yeah, I know. Should have gotten the hint the first time.)

Now I have a possible Chatwood deal that could work for both teams. I’d thought about this myself, and it was mentioned in the comments in yesterday’s Jose Quintana thread, so I thought I’d bring it here to the front page.

The Cubs should send Tyler Chatwood and Victor Caratini to the Blue Jays for Russell Martin.

Chatwood is owed $12.5 million in 2019 and $13.5 million in 2020. Martin, who will turn 36 just before spring training next year, is scheduled to make $20 million in 2019, after which he’s a free agent.

So the money matches up, mostly. It would be a bigger hit to Cubs payroll next year than with Chatwood, but then they’re off the hook. The Jays would have a smaller payroll in 2019, and presumably Chatwood would pitch well enough in Toronto so that he’d be worth keeping for them in 2020, and if not, they could just eat the contract and be out “only” about $5 million more than if they just paid Martin in 2019. If that’s something that would make them not make this trade, then maybe the Cubs send over some money to equalize it.

Russell Martin had the worst offensive year of his career in 2018 — but he was still a better hitter than Victor Caratini. Martin hit .194/.338/.325 (56-for-289). He drew 58 walks in only 90 games. Only three 2018 Cubs drew more than 58 walks — Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ. Meanwhile, Caratini hit .232/.293/.304 (42-for-181). Martin hit 10 home runs in 289 at-bats; Caratini just two in his 181 at-bats.

And as poor a season as Martin had, he still was worth 1.3 bWAR (0.6 fWAR). A lot of that was his defense. Though his caught-stealing percentage was down to 22 percent in 2018 (16 caught in 58 attempts), his pitch framing was 12th in MLB according to this ranking and 15th by this one. Willson Contreras, incidentally, was close to last on both those lists.

The Cubs wouldn’t need Martin to catch as many games as he did the last two years in Toronto (71 catcher starts in 2018, 78 in 2017), maybe start 40-45 games to spell Contreras. Martin can play other positions, too: He started 16 games at third base for the Blue Jays in 2018. He even started a game at shortstop last year [VIDEO].

And Martin has significant postseason experience: 57 games over nine postseasons with four teams (Dodgers, Yankees, Pirates, Blue Jays), including being the starting catcher for L.A. in the 2008 division series against the Cubs.

The Jays have a young catcher named Reese McGuire who they appear to want to work in as their starting catcher going forward. But Caratini might be a useful backup. If that isn’t enough, throw in someone else from the farm system and maybe ask for a mid-level Jays pitching prospect in return.

This would buy the Cubs a year to figure out what they want to do with the backup catcher position. Martin would be a good partner for Contreras and perhaps a pitch-framing mentor as well. Maybe Chatwood would succeed in the lower-pressure environment in Toronto. Could be a win for both teams.

Poll

Proposal: Tyler Chatwood for Russell Martin...

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Great solution for both players!
    (471 votes)
  • 37%
    Wouldn’t work. Next!
    (277 votes)
748 votes total Vote Now