Cubs 2020 roster outlook: New MLB rule gives Victor Caratini chance for bigger role


Each day in March, NBC Sports Chicago is previewing one player from the Cubs’ expected 2020 Opening Day roster. Next up is catcher Victor Caratini.

2019 recap

Caratini hit .266/.348/.447 with 11 homers and a 108 wRC+ in 95 games (59 starts) last season. He emerged as Yu Darvish’s personal catcher and, alongside starter Willson Contreras, made up one of the best 1-2 punches in all of baseball behind the dish.

Caratini filled in admirably for Contreras after he went down with a hamstring strain on Aug. 3. In 24 games (18 starts), the 26-year-old hit .271/.354/.471 with four home runs and an 11.4 percent walk rate.

Oh, and he also made a sweet defensive play last season...during a pitching appearance. 

Expectations for this season’s role

Caratini will again backup Contreras and catch every Darvish start. Otherwise, he’ll mix into the starting lineup every couple of days to keep Contreras’ legs fresh. He’s also Anthony Rizzo’s backup at first base and will see time there, occasionally.

2020 outlook

Something to keep an eye on the next few weeks is the competition for the Cubs’ 26th roster spot. They’re considering catcher Josh Phegley for the role in order to utilize Caratini more on days he doesn’t start.

Last season, Caratini was the Cubs’ most successful pinch-hitter, going 8-for-19 with two homers and seven RBIs. By carrying Phegley, Caratini could pinch-hit at any point in a game without David Ross potentially running out of catchers — should Contreras exit a game for whatever reason.

Caratini could start for other teams but is No. 2 on the Cubs' depth chart behind a back-to-back All-Star starter. The extra roster spot gives him a bigger opportunity to have a daily impact, starter or not. 

The complete roster outlook series:

1. Cubs hoping Kris Bryant stabilizes leadoff spot in 2020
2. Kyle Hendricks is a steady force in the Cubs' rotation
3. Kyle Schwarber is primed for a breakout 2020 season
4. Tyler Chatwood has chance to rewrite the script in 2020
5. David Bote searching for more offensive consistency in 2020
6. One pitch could hold key to Jose Quintana's 2020 success
7. Albert Almora Jr. looking to rebound behind new swing, refreshed mental state
8. Cubs counting on bounce back season from Craig Kimbrel
9. Javier Báez is indispensable, and the best is yet to come
10. New pitch key to Rowan Wick staving off regression

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