It was reported earlier by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the Cubs have agreed to send cash to the Royals in return for catcher George Kottaras. The 30-year-old will reportedly battle for the backup catcher job in spring training, according to MLB Trade Rumors. 

While it’s an under-the-radar trade, landing Kottaras does have upside for the Cubs. First of all, Kottaras is a lefty, so he can be used situationally by manager Rick Renteria if need be. Other than that, he can obviously give starter Welington Castillo a day’s rest every now and then. 

Something that people will instantly jump to with Kottaras is that he hit .180 last season. Especially given the small workload, that doesn’t paint the entire picture. In just 126 plate appearances, Kottaras hit five home runs and drove in 12. The more appalling stat is that despite batting just .180, Kottaras had an on-base percentage of .349. 

Even though it’s a much smaller sample size than that of a starter, that was better than any qualifying Cubs player last season. First baseman Anthony Rizzo led the team with a .323 on-base percentage. If nothing else, the patient approach that Kottaras has at the plate could rub off on some of the more free-swinging young players that the Cubs have. 

Cubs’ management likely feels comfortable with Kottaras because he played for the Red Sox in 2008 and 2009, when President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer were with the organization. 

The move also means that the Cubs’ current 40-man roster is now full, as the addition of Kottaras was their 40th. 

It is still possible that the Cubs could try to land another backup catching candidate in free agency, but it now seems unlikely that the club will continue to pursue Kurt Suzuki, whom they’ve been rumored to have interest in. From a financial standpoint, bringing in two backup catching candidates, even with the intent of cutting one of them, seems pointless. 

While it’s reported that Kottaras will compete for the backup catching job in spring training, it’s still unknown whether the club plans on having him compete with someone in-house like Eli Whiteside, who was signed to a minor league deal, or someone who has yet to be signed by the club. Whatever the case may be, another non-“sexy” move on the Cubs’ part could end up paying dividends down the road. 

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