Vázquez latest Cubs target to come off the board


The Cubs’ offseason targets continue to come off the board, and they’re coming off fast.

Christian Vázquez, one of the top free agent catchers available this winter, has agreed to a deal with the Twins, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported. It’s for three years, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

The Cubs were among the teams in on Vázquez, the top free agent backstop remaining after Willson Contreras signed with the Cardinals last week.

They were briefly linked to Xander Bogaerts, kicking the tires on him before he signed an 11-year deal with the Padres, and were in on Kodai Senga, who agreed to a deal with the Mets.

They were in on José Abreu early, before he signed with the Astros, and Josh Bell, who signed a two-year deal with the Guardians. 

Catcher is among the Cubs’ offseason needs with the departure of Contreras. His signing with St. Louis jumpstarted that market.

Earlier Monday, the Braves acquired Sean Murphy — the top catcher available on the trade market — from the A’s in a three-team, nine-player deal.

The Cubs were linked to Murphy on the rumor mill during the Winter Meetings. That seemed less likely than other options considering they made clear earlier in the offseason all of their significant additions would be via free agency.

With Vázquez off the board, the top catchers left in free agency include Omar Narvaez and Tucker Barnhardt, a two-time Gold Glove winner.

The Cubs' catching picture includes Yan Gomes and P.J. Higgins, who has versatility to play several positions. Prospect Miguel Amaya is on the 40-man roster but has dealt with injury setbacks in recent seasons.

"Yan, he did a really good job. I don't think he can play 162 games," general manager Carter Hawkins said at the Winter Meetings. "P.J. did a really good job as well and is a guy that we feel really strongly is a great member of the team. We definitely would feel comfortable with him as the backup to Yan, if that's where we end up.

"But at the same time, there's some good catchers out there on the market and on the trade market as well. So, we will continue to engage those and kind of compare that to our alternatives, both with our prospects and with our dollars."

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