Jesse Rogers talked to Theo Epstein about the team still having three catchers on the roster with less than two weeks left in Spring Training, and Epstein’s response, “We’re strongly leaning towards three catchers.”
Welington Castillo is out of minor league options, so he either begins the season with the Cubs or another team as Epstein pointed out last month. Teams have reportedly shown interest in Castillo, and the Phillies are one of the clubs that recently scouted him. But the Cubs have not been offered what the front office feels Castillo is worth.
Theo Epstein pointed to Joe Maddon wanting the team to break camp with three catchers on the active roster. And he “wants it more than anybody else” according to Epstein.
Maddon thinks he can use the flexibility of having Castillo on the roster with Miguel Montero and David Ross to the Cubs advantage. Having two catchers on the bench everyday would give Maddon the option to pinch run for one of them late in games. Or as a defensive replacement, possibly utilizing Castillo’s strong arm to limit a team’s running game.
Welington Castillo is having a very good spring both offensively and defensively and has handled being the odd-man out incredibly well. Instead of reporting to camp with his head down, he’s used the situation to his advantage. Castillo is picking up nuances of receiving from Ross and Montero as well as how to communicate with the pitching staff. Castillo has reportedly been a lot more vocal this spring than in previous years.
During his conversation with Jesse Rogers, Epstein reiterated that one of the quickest ways for a team’s season to go south is to lose one of its catchers. And if that were to happen, the team would have to call-up a minor league free agent or a player not ready for the big leagues.
Offensively this spring, Castillo has way outperformed both Ross and Montero. Castillo is 9-for-24 in nine games with three doubles, two walks, four strikeouts and two home runs. Ross is 5-for-20 with a double, a home run, no walks and eight strikeouts in seven games while Montero is 4-for-24 in eight games with a double, a home run, no walks and six strikeouts.
Miguel Montero and David Ross are learning the pitching staff and based on recent performances by the projected starters, both veteran catchers are starting to get on the same page with the pitchers.
Jess Rogers reported that he pushed Epstein and asked if the team is seriously considering it an option to have three catchers on the roster. And Epstein did not back down from his statements.
Having players like Arismendy Alcantara, Tommy La Stella, Javier Baez, Mike Olt and Chris Denorfia on the roster would help give Maddon flexibility in the infield and outfield that could allow the Cubs to keep three catchers on the roster.