As they continue this long rebuild, the Chicago Cubs are beginning to put some pieces in place. Much of the infield is already set for the future, with Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, and Starlin Castro occupying three of the five spots. Left to be decided, though, are catcher and third base.
While third base is going to be an issue for this club until the likes of Javier Baez or Junior Lake are ready, assuming they remain in the organization, the Cubs might be set at catcher if 2012 was any indication.
The Cubs began the season with Geovany Soto as their starting catcher. He continued his hot and cold streak that has plagued him since he won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2008. Eventually, that earned him a ticket out of town at the trade deadline.
The remainder of the season saw the Cubs roll with Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo behind the dish. While Clevenger became something of a fan favorite, performing well in limited action, the 2012 season showed that the Cubs might actually have their future catcher in Castillo.
Throughout his minor league career, and in the brief action we’ve seen from him at the Major League level, there’s no doubt that Castillo can hit. He showed he has some pop in his bat, finishing with a .265 average and five home runs in 149 plate appearances this season.
If there is a spot where Castillo looks like he could improve, it’s defensively. He had seven errors behind the plate, in just 49 games. Luckily for him, that’s an area that could easily be improved.
There aren’t really any catching options out on the free agent or trade market, unless the Cubs were to look at signing a guy like A.J. Pierzynski (doubtful) or trading for someone like Jarrod Saltalamacchia (also doubtful). With no other significant options in the system, Castillo looks to be the guy.
Castillo has the bat that could make him an effective option for the Cubs. It will be a matter of improving his defense. As long as that aspect of his game comes along, the Cubs should be set at catcher for the foreseeable future.