Federowicz, 27, whom the Padres acquired by trade in December 2014 from the Los Angeles Dodgers, was having a good spring, batting .400 with two doubles, and was expected to be the backup catcher for the 2015 campaign. Earlier this week, Federowicz had been complaining of discomfort in his knee, and it was believed that he had suffered a partial meniscus tear, which would require arthroscopic surgery. An MRI revealed a full tear, which will require a more invasive procedure.
Now, Federowicz is expected to miss three to six months, most likely keeping him out through the All-Star break. Wil Nieves, 37, will serve as the backup to Derek Norris, the Padres’ primary catcher and 2014 All-Star.
This injury presents an opportunity for another National League Team, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs currently have three catchers on roster, and are actively looking to move last year’s starter Welington Castillo. This past offseason, the Cubs acquired two catchers, Miguel Montero and David Ross. Although Castillo has played well the past two seasons, these roster moves have left him on the outside looking in. The Cubs are open to trade talks and have shopped him around.
Castillo, 27, is the type of hard working team player any squad would want. After serving as Geovany Soto‘s back up in 2012, Soto moved on to the Texas Rangers opening the door for Castillo to take the reigns as the Cubs everyday starter. Staying healthy can be a major issue for catchers, but Castillo has averaged 112 games a season since becoming the Cubs starting catcher.
Castillo also has a respectable career slash line of .256/.324/.400 to go along with 84 extra base hits and 104 RBI’s. But his defense may be more attractive to the Padres as they look to solidify their bench. Castro’s caught stealing percentage has been above the league average (career 31% over the league average of 28% in that time frame) for all but one of his five seasons in the big leagues.
The Cubs have generated much hype leading up to the 2015 season for their farm system and free agent additions. Many are expecting a playoff season in Joe Maddon’s first season in the Windy City. However, this is a team with a few holes left to fill, one being a solid lefty relief presence in the bullpen. The Cubs recently signed veteran Phil Coke, but after him questions abound. The Cubs appear likely to fall back on a group of young and inexperienced lefties to fill out their bullpen.
The Padres could be a match for the Cubs, with a pitcher like southpaw Alex Torres as trade bait. The Padres need a catcher, the Cubs need a lefty. It seems like a match made in low-risk trade heaven. Time will tell if anything comes of it, but don’t be surprised to hear about possible talks in the next few weeks leading up to the regular season.