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BCB After Dark: Happy Thanksgiving (And Cubs catchers)

The late-night/early-morning club for Cubs fans asks about a new catcher for the North Siders.

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Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at BCB After Dark: the swingin’ spot for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re still open here for the evening if you want to have a bit of a break before the holiday. Come on in and relax for a while. Get out of the cold. Grab a table near the stage. Have a tasty beverage—which you should bring yourself.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last night I asked you about some backup plans for the Cubs if they fail to sign (or trade for) a bigger name first baseman. The candidates were all players who could reasonably be expected to agree to a one-year deal. I think all of you were pretty apathetic about the issue, which is to be expected. But with 34 percent of the vote, you gave the nod to Trey Mancini. Wil Myers was in second place with 25 percent. Matt Carpenter finished third with 16 percent, but some of you admitted you just wanted to see that so you could see the heads of Cardinals fans explode.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Except I’m not talking about films tonight. I don’t really feel like writing 1500 words on a film and then having it disappear as everyone watches football and spends time with family. But I do have something for those of you who still stop by our place and check in on this holiday eve and day.


If there’s a centerpiece to most Thanksgiving meals, it’s the turkey. Or in other words, the bird. And there’s only one “Bird” in jazz and that’s the great Charlie Parker. And so here is Parker playing “Carvin’ the Bird,” which I assume a lot of you will be doing today.

And as a bonus, here’s Louis Armstrong playing “All That Meat and No Potatoes.”


I was thinking about doing a kind of 16-film bracket where everyone could vote for their favorite until only one film remained. My idea was to do a “film noir” bracket and ask for your nominations for films to include. But it could be a different genre as well or even a decade. If anyone thinks that’s a good idea or a bad idea, I’d appreciate some feedback in the comments. I’ll ask again on a day with more traffic—nothing will be decided today.

Thanksgiving isn’t a baseball holiday. We get the Fourth of July. Football gets Thanksgiving—both kinds of football this year.

Tonight, I’m just going to ask you for your favorite Thanksgiving side dish. I’m going to leave the categories broad. By that, I mean “sweet potatoes” can mean that casserole monstrosity with the marshmallows, it can be candied yams or it can just be mashed sweet potatoes. Or if you’re my wife, it can be the sweet potato gnocchi that she insists I make every year. Green beans can be a casserole or whatever preparation you love at your table. Got it?

So what’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Poll

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

  • 56%
    Stuffing/dressing
    (69 votes)
  • 10%
    Mashed or baked potatoes
    (13 votes)
  • 12%
    Sweet potatoes
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Green beans
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Macaroni and cheese
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Brussel Sprouts
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    Cranberries or cranberry sauce
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Corn
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Bread or rolls
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (3 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and the food.

I don’t think the odds of Willson Contreras returning to the Cubs next year are zero, but I do think they’re pretty darn low. Like, maybe there’s a five percent chance at this point. So that means the Cubs are going to be looking for a new catcher this winter.

So that means the Cubs are going to have to go get another catcher and the best one on the free agent market is Contreras. So that means the Cubs will have to be looking a little further down the list. The Cubs have also made it clear that they prioritize defense and pitch handling for their catcher over offense, or they would have made a bigger effort to try to sign Contreras.

Yan Gomes will be back next year and the Cubs clearly intend for him to share the job with a new catching partner. They don’t seem to think that P.J. Higgins is that guy, but Higgins is still around and can serve as a third catcher and as a backup corner infielder.

Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma reported last week that the Cubs were interested in both Christian Vázquez and Omar Narváez. (The Athletic sub. req.) Vázquez, 32, has a strong defensive reputation, but he didn’t hit poorly last year putting up a line of .274/.315/.399 with nine home runs between Boston and Houston last year. Vázquez was the player the Astros traded for after their owner vetoed a deal that would have sent Contreras to Houston. (Although for what it’s worth, Houston has been rumored to be interested in signing Contreras as a free agent this winter.)

Narváez, 30, is younger than Vázquez and is considered one of the best pitch-framers in the game. The rest of his defensive reputation isn’t quite as high as Vázquez, but he’s still considered a pretty good defensive catcher. Narváez was poor with the bat in 2022, hitting just .206/.292/.304 in 84 games, but he was struggling with injuries. Narváez was an all-star in 2021 when he hit .266/.342/.402. He also has better career offensive numbers Vázquez.

This article by Tim Stebbins has a few other suggestions for potential Cubs catchers. One is Mike Zunino, who has a terrific defensive reputation. In 2021, Zunino hit 33 home runs in just 109 games for the Rays and made the American League All-Star team. But he was hurt all last season and managed to play just 36 games. It’s also not clear at all that he’ll be healthy by Opening Day. But he’s got the most upside of anyone here.

Tucker Barnhart, 31, is another possibility. Cubs fans are no doubt familiar with Barnhart from his days with the Reds, but he was pretty dreadful in 2022 after getting traded to the Tigers before last season. To be fair, close to everyone on the Tigers was dreadful last season, so maybe he just needs a change of scenery to return to what he was in Cincinnati. If he returns to his Reds form, he’s solid on both offense and defense.

Finally, there’s Austin Hedges. The former Guardian is really a poor hitter and has been his entire career, but he’s probably the best defender and handler of pitching staffs of all of them. If the Cubs carry three catcher (counting Higgins), then they could perhaps minimize his offensive downside by regularly pinch-hitting for him.

So that’s your choices. Who should be the next Cubs catcher?

Poll

Who should be the new Cubs catcher?

  • 41%
    Christian Vázquez
    (49 votes)
  • 18%
    Omar Narváez
    (22 votes)
  • 22%
    Mike Zunino
    (26 votes)
  • 9%
    Tucker Barnhart
    (11 votes)
  • 7%
    Austin Hedges
    (9 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now

Thank you all so very much for stopping by. We hope you have the happiest of holiday weekends with whomever you choose to spend it with. Please get home safely—both tonight and all weekend. If you checked anything, we can get that for you now. Recycle any cans and bottles. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again next week for more BCB After Dark.