ORLANDO, Fla. – The Cubs don’t plan to make a huge investment in a free-agent catcher like Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Instead, sources say, the Cubs have Kurt Suzuki on their radar as they try to find a catcher to complement building-block piece Welington Castillo.
Suzuki, 30, has built up a good reputation for his baseball IQ and ability to handle pitching staffs with the Oakland A’s and Washington Nationals.
Suzuki (.685 career OPS) is not an offensive force like McCann or Saltalamacchia, two hitters who will cash in with long-term deals expected to go far beyond a price range that would make the Cubs comfortable.
Still, Suzuki could help mentor Castillo, who took major steps forward during his age-26 season but has questions about his durability and game-calling approach.
The sense is Dioner Navarro priced himself out of Chicago and will want more playing time. (The Cubs also made Navarro readily available last summer and couldn’t swing a trade.) Navarro capitalized on his one-year, $1.75 million deal, generating 13 homers in 240 at-bats and posting an .856 OPS.
“He’s had such a good year that he’s going to be a sought-after commodity for a number of teams,” team president Theo Epstein said. “We’ll certainly remain in contact with him. He was a good example of the type of free-agent move that pans out. He has the benefit of a nice year for him and maybe our relationship can continue going forward.”
As the general manager meetings continue at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, the Cubs will be trying to fill multiple needs, looking for a catcher, an outfielder, a starting pitcher and a potential closer.
“We’re really happy with Welington, but we need to find another catcher,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “We’ve cast a pretty wide net and we’ll keep on narrowing that focus down.”