You know, we’ve spent so much time talking about the “Yu Darvish deal” and looking at Yu Darvish’s rough performance since mid-June that sometimes I think we forget that the Cubs brought a solid catcher into this deal . Is anyone still curious how Victor Caratini fares with the Padres this year?
Well I have. And it’s not good! Much more not good than i expected.
The 28-year-old switch hitter, who was almost the starting caliber with the Cubs – but was instead just a really good backup because of Willson Contreras – has played 105 games for the Padres this year. Thanks to a few injuries, Caratini came closer as a catcher to the workload of a starter there in San Diego, which one had hoped would unlock another level of performance.
Unfortunately the opposite is true. Caratini only hits 0.212 / 0.299 / 0.306, good for a terrible 65 WRC +. Only seven bats in all of baseball have 300 or more PAs and a lower wRC +. Caratini was terrible.
What’s annoying is that his walk and strikeout rates have been consistent with the rest of his career, but his BABIP has been going down. The ISO is also still rough, which suggests that its contact quality isn’t great. In fact, his groundball rate is over 50%, his hard contact rate is under 30%, and although his expected wOBA is slightly better than his actual wOBA, he remains in the lower league of baseball (205th place out of 233 hitters with at least 200 balls in Game). In other words, Caratini just doesn’t have enough good contacts to produce anywhere near the league average.
Additionally, his defensive stats on the catcher were terrible, both framing and defensive runs. These stats may take a little more time to stabilize, but it’s strange to look for a guy who’s always been pretty solid with the Cubs in both areas.
Taken it all together, Caratini remains with a -0.9 WAR, by far the worst number for any starting or starting neighbor catcher in all of baseball this year.
I have no idea what to do with this information because it doesn’t affect the cubs and I have no interest in dancing on any graves. Yes, sometimes catchers sink very quickly by the age of 30, but that just seems strange. And why don’t you want Caratini to do well with his new team? Oh, and also? You can’t assume he would have been this bad if he was still with the Cubs. So it’s not like you can immediately say, “It’s good the Cubs got rid of THAT guy!”
But there’s a reality that needs to be set forth here: Both Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini were deeply disappointing to a Padres team that needed them to be really good. For the Cubs, however, even a good version of Darvish and Caratini wouldn’t be the difference between a 2021 playoff chase and what they are now. So in retrospect, the deal makes sense, regardless of how the two of them did with the padres. It’s just that, in retrospect, it is all the easier for prospects to take the trade since they performed so badly. The fact that two of these prospects, Reggie Preciado and Owen Caissie, had great years in the Cubs’ farming system helps too.
As for Caratini, he’s once again divorced and the Padres must decide whether to keep him with a small $ 1.3 million increase in his salary this year. If not, hey, maybe the Cubs can come back on the market as a backup catcher for Caratini. Maybe the organization just suits him better? I wouldn’t hate it as a buy-low, bounce-back guy.