The Cubs made one trade prior to Thursday’s deadline. The team acquired catcher Victor Caratini from the Atlanta Braves for LHP James Russell and INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio. The Cubs also sent cash to Atlanta in the deal.
With the trade, the Cubs cleared two spots on the 40-man roster that officially stands at 38 players.
Jed Hoyer indicated about six teams were interested in Emilio Bonifacio and the front office felt that Atlanta had the best offer on the table. The Cubs had to include James Russell in the deal in order to land Victor Caratini.
The Cubs are sending cash to the Braves in the deal, roughly $1 million according to the Sun-Times. James Russell is owed $568,000 of his $1.775 million salary and Emilio Bonifacio is due $800,000 of his $2.5 million contract he signed with the Cubs in Spring Training.
James Russell was selected in the 14th round of the 2007 draft and was the longest tenured player on the Cubs roster. Russell was 0-2 in 44 appearances this season with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Russell was very effective against right handed hitters this year but struggled against lefties. Russell has one more season of control on his contract before he becomes a free agent.
Emilio Bonifacio ended up hitting .279/.318/.373 in 69 games with the Cubs with 14 doubles, three triples and two home runs. After a hot start to the season he cooled off at the plate before spending a month on the DL with an oblique strain. Bonifacio is a free agent at the end of the year.
The Braves selected catcher Victor Caratini in the second round of the 2013 draft. The switch-hitting catcher also plays third base and shortstop. The 20-year old is 6-foot, 195 pounds and played A-ball in the South Atlantic League.
Victor Caratini hit .279/.352/.406 in 87 games with 18 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 34 walks and 59 strikeouts for a .757 OPS.
Baseball America ranked Victor Caratini as the eighth best prospect in the Braves system prior to the season. Caratini is “an advanced hitter with a line-drive swing, a gap-to-gap approach from both sides of the plate and an excellent feel for the strike zone.” Caratini is considered a below average runner that does not have the quickness to play in the infield.
Baseball Prospectus sees Caratini has a “possible first-division catcher” with a “strong-hit tool.” Caratini’s body-type profiles as a catcher. Baseball Prospectus described Caratini as “a compact and strong player that looks built for the backstop.” BP graded Caratini with a 6 arm (60 on 20-80 scouting scale) and gave him a 6 grade on the potential hit tool.
Victor Caratini is seen as a catcher and he has plus arm strength, according to Baseball America, with enough quickness behind the plate to handle the position long term. The reports from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus point to the fact the Cubs will have to be patient with him on his development behind the plate due to age and experience as a catcher.
Victor Caratini was assigned to Low-A Kane County Cougars.