Detroit Tigers: Consider trading for Cubs catcher Victor Caratini

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If the Detroit Tigers are not convinced that Jake Rogers is the catcher of the future and the free-agent pickings are slim, should the Tigers look into Victor Caratini?

I must admit when it comes to thinking about Detroit Tigers trade pieces as I did with the Tyler O’Neill piece,  I try to make sure my logic is sound. The team has several needs including the starting rotation, second base, and the outfield.

With this piece, which will probably the last trade piece I do for a bit until after the World Series, I was drawing a blank on what the Detroit Tigers could give the Cubs back in return so for this article, I will focus on what why the Cubs would consider trading Victor Caratini and why he would be a good fit for the Detroit Tigers.

Recognizing that Al Avila has a good rapport with the Cubs in terms of trades, (Candelario, Paredes) and the getting the vibe that Jake Rogers is not the catcher of the future. You can take away what you will from his end of the season comments on October 4 to the press about Jake Rogers but not even a few at-bats? Here’s what he said via Freep.com. 

“From a defensive perspective, he’s the real deal,” Avila said Friday. “I do have worries about his offense, and I didn’t feel comfortable at the time bringing up him. I felt that it would benefit him more, and the organization, to keep him down there with those at-bats where he’s not going to be scrutinized as much.

Enter Victor Caratini

Defensively, he was one of the better catchers in the league. According to Statcast, he was in the top 10 in a stat called “Runs From Extra Strikes” which means strikes to run saved on a .125/run/strike basis and includes park and pitcher adjustments. It’s part of catching framing. In other words, he converted 53% of non-swing pitches into called strikes in the “Shadow Zone”. That zone is the edges of the strike zone. If you want to learn more about it, I would click here as baseball savant explains it better than I can.

In other words, he is in the 98% in framing and he was Yu Darvish’s personal catcher. His offense took a setback as our friends over at Cubbies Crib discussed in terms of OPS+, which took a dip from his 2019 season.  He also struggled barrelling up the ball.

However, he is a switch-hitting catcher that hits with more power on the right (13 career home runs in 531 plate appearances) but has a higher OPS on the left side (.720). In his career so far, his slash line is .250/.327/.372. And with the Detroit Tigers young pitching staff, you need someone like Caratini that is at least proven enough to help their staff save some strikes and give them a defensive presence.

Why would Chicago trade Caratini?

Yes, he is under club control longer than Wilson Contreras and cheaper. Contreras started 68% of the time last season but depending on what you are reading, the team is suggesting their 2020 losses were “biblical”, it could be possible they could be trading.  But Contreras is not a free-agent until 2023 and could cost Detroit less in prospects to trade Caratini.

Waiting in the wings is Miguel Amaya, who is one of the top 10 catching prospects in all of baseball that could slide up to replace Caratini.

Grayson Greiner, despite all his struggles, got more opportunities than Rogers, who showed off his new swing mechanics in spring training but it’s been radio silence since until Avila’s presser earlier in the month and the few comments here and there in September.

What would Detroit give up that the Cubs could want? A few minor league relievers? That I do not have an exact answer for but like O’Neill, he is a defensive upgrade. Perhaps a regular spot in the lineup could help Caratini.

I can live with a catcher who hits .250 with a defensive profile like his. The Tigers need all the help they can get for their young pitchers. If I was Al Avila, I would pick up the phone and see if Caratini is available.

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