The Chicago Cubs continued their bargain-hunting for inexpensive free agent deals on Thursday. Earlier in the week the Cubs addressed one of their open spots in their starting rotation by signing free agent starting pitcher Scott Baker. After signing Baker, Cubs’ President Theo Epstein indicated that the team remains interested in acquiring starting pitchers. The Cubs’ front office deviated from their search for starting pitching help on Thursday as the team addressed one of their other areas need.
One player that has emerged during the 2012 season was catcher Welington Castillo. Castillo was so impressive during the middle months of the 2012 season that it led the Cubs to trade Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline. The 25 year old Castillo finished the 2012 season with a slash line of .265/.337/.418/.754 to go along with 5 home runs and 22 RBIs. Castillo will now enter the 2013 season knowing that he will be the Cubs’ starting catcher.
While the Cubs are indeed high on Castillo as their catcher for the long-term, the team realized that 2013 will presumably be Castillo’s first full-season in the Major Leagues. To expect an essential rookie to be available both mentally and physically from game 1 to game 162 would simply be naive. For that reason, the Cubs entered the off-season with the hopes of adding a veteran catcher to be Castillo’s backup for the 2013 season.
That is what the Cubs had in mind when they agreed to a one year deal with veteran catcher Dioner Navarro on Thursday. After being elected to the American League All-Star game in 2008, a season where Navarro finished with a slash line of .295/.349/.407/.756, the 28 year old catcher has failed to return to his 2008 glory. Between the 2009-2011 seasons, Navarro failed to finish each season with a batting average above .220. Navarro appeared last with the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, playing in 24 games while hitting .290/.306/.449/.755.
The Cubs found a decent veteran backup catcher in Navarro. While Navarro certainly will not be as good offensively as he was during his 2008 campaign, the catcher should be a suitable backup for Castillo. After all, Navarro is certainly a much better option than Koyie Hill as well as Steve Clevenger. Interesting enough, Navarro was teammates with Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza on the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. One could expect that Navarro may serve as Garza’s battery-mate during the 2013 season.