By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The names of catchers Alex Avila and Jonathan Lucroy have been bandied about for the last two weeks as possible backup catcher acquisitions by the Cubs before the non-waiver trading deadline comes Monday afternoon.
Avila appears to be the right type of player going forward, but deal between the Cubs and Tigers has been stalled by a more complex group of players being involved as well, such as right-hander Justin Verlander and closer Justin Wilson being made available and taking up a lot of Detroit general manager Al Avila’s time.
Alex Avila is a free agent after the 2017 season. He has had a resurgent season and is poised to make good on that in November, when he hits the open market. While the Cubs and Tigers have talked about numerous scenarios, Chicago has also had its talent evaluators looking at other candidates for a backup catcher to Willson Contreras.
The market for Lucroy has dropped off significantly. He has seen his offensive numbers tumble to .245, with four home runs and 27 RBIs in 76 games. The chance of a Cubs-Rangers deal seems remote.
There are three new names that could also be moved to the Cubs, per source:
— Rene Rivera of the Mets is of interest to the Cubs. He’s a good catch-and-throw catcher who also has some home run pop in his bat.
— The Marlins’ A.J. Ellis was a Dodger mainstay behind the plate for numerous playoff runs. Ellis is said to have the same baseball DNA as former Cubs catcher David Ross. In other words, he’s known as a great team player and may be an ideal fit to back up Contreras.
— Carlos Joaquin Ruiz, now with the Mariners, caught for the Phillies during their World Series trips in 2008 and 2009. His defense is still OK, but his offensive skills have faded.
The Cubs would like to add a veteran to catch about 15 games down the stretch. Contreras has been the Cubs’ MVP since the All-Star break, but with the dog days of summer quickly approaching, he needs to sit out every fourth or fifth day to stay fresh.
Rookie backup Victor Caratini has a nice future ahead of him, but a veteran who has postseason experience is needed for the team’s push for another championship.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.