Chicago Cubs: Players to Watch in Spring Training

Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images North America

Jonathan Daniel – Getty Images North America

Catchers:

That leaves catchers. This is one spot where there is some question going forward, because the Cubs have yet to nail down their future at this position. David Ross is, in theory, in his final season. Miguel Montero is nearing the end of his career as well.  What is unclear is whether the move of Kyle Schwarber to the outfield will be a permanent move, making room for Willson Contreras, who could be ready to make the move to the majors this year, and is a star on offense and defense at Triple-A level.

Montero and Ross will no doubt have the lion’s share of starts behind the plate this season. Ross is a well-above-average defender, and while Montero doesn’t have quite the arm that Ross does, both are a big part of the pitching success the Cubs enjoyed in 2016. Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon have both indicated they’d like to get Schwarber more starts behind the plate, but it’s going to be hard to pull off, and has to be done without damage to the overall team success in a year when sights are firmly set on the post season and the ultimate dream.

Two other catchers have been invited to camp as well, and will be figuring into the mix as we move on toward opening day and the final roster.

Taylor Davis is a catcher / infielder who played for Triple-A Iowa in 2015 and put up some truly remarkable numbers at the plate.  His slash for 2015 was .309/.361/.444 with an OPS of .805. He can play first or third, but has spent most of his time catching in recent seasons. If he can bring that bat to spring training and keep it at the level it reached in 2015, he could be a wild-card in the mix. At the very least, he is likely to see a major-league opportunity of one sort or the other before 2016 is in the books.

Also invited is Tim Federowicz, who is a former catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His statistics aren’t stellar, but he has some experience, and he’s still relatively young. It’s easy to second-guess scouts and general managers, and so, while there is no particular statistic that explains exactly what someone saw in Federowicz, the fact remains he will be reporting. As things stand, he seems unlikely to have a slot on the Cubs, but could stay in Triple-A and be ready if the club needs a seasons replacement at some point.

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