Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the Chicago Cubs had reached an agreement with the Kansas City Royals on a trade. The deal sends veteran catcher George Kottaras to the Cubs, and the Royals received cash in return.
Kottaras has spent most of his major league career playing in a backup/platoon role. He adds a left handed bat for the Cubs, and my guess is that he will be on the roster as a backup to returning starter Welington Castillo.
Kottaras has not been a very good hitter (.214 lifetime average, .252 season high), but he has been a very good defender behind the plate in his career. He also has a great approach at the plate. Kottaras has a career walk rate of 14%. That number is above league average, and by a very decent margin. But not only is his ability to take walks better than most, he has been getting better almost every season. His walk rate from last season, 19%, was the best in baseball among all players with at least 100 plate appearances.
Although he can get on base, Kottaras also has a very high strikeout rate. His mark of 33.3% last year was well beyond league average. That stat doesn’t worry me too much, because he has been a backup for most of his career.
Even though he hasn’t been overly productive as a player, Kottaras hit for the cycle with the Brewers in 2011. And to top it off, he won a cow milking competition against Texas Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross last year.
This deal means that the Cubs will likely not try to resign free agent Dioner Navarro. Navarro, who played mostly in a backup role, set personal bests in several categories including 13 home runs, a .300 batting average, and an .856 OPS.
With the Cubs’s signing of Eli Whiteside earlier this offseason, Kottaras appears to have a battle for the backup role.
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