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24 for ’24: How will the Cubs’ catching situation shake out?

4 weeks agoTony Andracki

As the Cubs embark on a new campaign with a new manager (Craig Counsell) at the helm, we answer 24 of the most pressing questions for the 2024 season.

Last year marked a transitional season for the Cubs at catcher, moving on from a cornerstone at the position (Willson Contreras) and aiming for a veteran, defensive-minded duo (Yan Gomes, Tucker Barnhart).

Yet it was a young rookie that burst onto the scene and may have changed the catching position for the next half-decade in Chicago.

After years of dealing with injuries, Miguel Amaya suddenly went from afterthought on the 40-man roster to a potential catcher of the future.

Amaya, who just turned 25 earlier this month, was a highly regarded young backstop in the Cubs system, earning a spot on MLB.com’s Top 100 prospect lists prior to the 2019, 2020 and 2021 campaigns.

However, his career took a difficult turn. Between the pandemic, Tommy John surgery on his elbow and a Lisfranc injury in his foot, Amaya was limited to just 63 minor-league games in a 3-year stretch from 2020-22.

The Cubs added Amaya to their 40-man roster in November 2019 to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, which means he held down a valuable roster spot for years as he battled through injuries.

Amaya started 2023 with Double-A Tennessee but when Gomes landed on the IL in early May with a concussion, the Cubs gave their young backstop a call. He responded with an RBI in his MLB debut and stuck around in “The Show” for a week before heading back to the minors (this time to Triple-A Iowa).

The Cubs recalled Amaya for good in early June and eventually parted ways with Barnhart in late August.

Amaya drew rave reviews from the Cubs pitching staff — and even the team’s infielders — and flashed his offensive potential with some power and on-base skills.

“I think he has that calm demeanor that is very helpful for a pitcher,” Craig Counsell said earlier this spring. “That’s a real thing for sure. You gotta be calm and at the same time, show them that you’re really invested in them. And that’s the challenge for a catcher.”

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The Cubs enter 2024 with the tandem of Amaya and Gomes handling catching duties once again, though it remains to be seen exactly what the split looks like.

Gomes turns 37 in July but he is coming off a season in which he played 116 games, the second-highest total in a year in his career. He was an instrumental part of the offense, with 10 homers, 63 RBI and a bunch of clutch hits.

Gomes also provides exceptional value to the Cubs from defensive and intangible standpoints. The team looks at him as a coach on the field and a calming presence for the pitching staff.

“Quickly, Yan shows you his experience slows the game down so much for for our pitchers and that’s really important and he’s really good at it,” Counsell said. “He’s just the savvy veteran. That’s what he is and keeps figuring out ways to use his experience and talent to make himself a successful player.”

In every way, Gomes is the perfect mentor for Amaya.

“The learning curve for catchers is always incredibly steep,” Counsell said. “That’s why we often see catchers develop a little later because just the amount of information we asked them to process is steep right?

“But Miguel is physically talented. I think his experience last year was huge to kind of slow down all that information that gets piled on him so I think [he’s] doing a really good job this spring at taking that and he’s a skilled receiver. His receiving abilities are really impressive and he does a really good job at that.”

The Cubs are in a good spot with their catching tandem heading into a 2024 season that could serve as a passing of the torch.

24 for ’24 series

What are the Cubs expecting from Kyle Hendricks in 2024 and beyond?
What role will Drew Smyly fill on the 2024 Cubs?
How will Jameson Taillon fare in Year 2 with Cubs?
How will Shota Imanaga handle the adjustment to MLB?
Who will DH for the Cubs?
Who is the Cubs’ fifth starter?
Will defense once again be the Cubs’ strength?
Can Seiya Suzuki pick up where he left off? 
What are the Cubs’ long-term plans at first base?
Have the Cubs done enough to address their left-handed hitting?
Will Justin Steele replicate his stellar 2023 season?
When will Pete Crow-Armstrong be up with the Cubs in Chicago?
Will Adbert Alzolay be Cubs’ closer again?

Who will hit leadoff?
How will Christopher Morel fare at third base?
How is the Cubs’ bullpen shaping up?
What will Year 2 look like for Dansby Swanson with Cubs?
What will the 2024 Cubs Opening Day roster look like?
How will the Cubs’ catching situation shake out?

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