Sunday, June 16, 2024

Cubs Lose Valuable Insurance at Catcher Position

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The Chicago Cubs offense hasn’t been as good as fans expected so far in 2024 and part of the problem has been injuries to key players. However, some guys simply have not been performing and earlier this week the Cubs lost some valuable insurance at catcher, the position that has been struggling the most on offense this year.

Veteran catcher Curt Casali opted out of his minor league deal with the Cubs and immediately signed with the San Francisco Giants. The 35-year-old signed with the Cubs back in March and he was tearing up Triple-A, which eventually led to a big-league opportunity with the Giants. In 23 games with the Iowa Cubs, Casali slashed .362/.489/.551, with a pair of home runs, a 1.039 OPS and 176 wRC+ over 88 plate appearances.

The Giants signed Casali and activated him to their active roster on Wednesday. San Francisco is currently without catcher Patrick Bailey, who was placed on the concussion injured list on Tuesday. Casali started for the Giants at catcher Wednesday night and it was a great season debut for him, as he went 1-for-2, with a walk and a run scored, while he was behind the plate to see a 4-1 Giants win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Casali broke into the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014 and his numbers at the plate from 2015-2022 were solid, relatively speaking for a catcher. The right-handed hitter slashed .227/.319/.404 with a 95 wRC+ in those eight seasons as a backup. However, the veteran was pretty bad for the Cincinnati Reds in 2023, ending the year with a 40 wRC+ in 40 games. Casali’s playing time was limited because of a foot injury, which sidelined him for the final few months of the year.

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The catcher was in spring training camp with the Miami Marlins, but was let go after poor results in the Grapefruit League and then he jumped aboard with the Cubs to begin the 2024 season.

I’m not sure if the Cubs were ever going to give Casali a look in the majors, but I still would have loved to see him as an option. Yan Gomes has regressed on offense this year and that’s honestly not much of a surprise. However, I was expecting a lot more out of Miguel Amaya, who did a solid job as a backup in 2023, when he recorded a 94 wRC+ in 156 plate appearances.

So far in 2024, Amaya is only slashing .188/.253/.271 and Gomes is even worse at .188/.197/.297. Out of all 30 teams, the Cubs catchers rank second worst in offensive production at the position heading into Thursday’s action only ahead of the Miami Marlins.

Awful, just awful. So yeah, not having a guy who has hit when he’s been healthy like Casali does sting a bit because it’s not like the Cubs have good depth ready to step in a catcher if they desperately need some help later this season.

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