With Willson Contreras on the shelf for a while yet, the Cubs have once again made a move to bolster the catcher position. They picked up Rene Rivera from the Mets on a straight waiver claim, which means they didn’t have to give any players up in return. They did, however, have to DFA Aaron Brooks in order to clear space on the 40-man roster.
Rivera, a glove-first catcher who frames well and has done a decent job of throwing runners out, is expected to join the team either Sunday in Chicago or Tuesday in Cincy. Loyal readers may remember that we mentioned the well-traveled backstop among the Cubs’ possible trade targets last month.
Here’s a little more on Rivera from the Cubs’ announcement of the move:
Rivera, 34, has played all or part of nine major league seasons with the Seattle Mariners (2004-06), Minnesota Twins (2011), San Diego Padres (2013-14), Tampa Bay Rays (2015) and New York Mets (2016-17) and is a career .215 hitter (274-for-1,272) with 53 doubles, 34 homers and 141 RBI in 453 games. With the Mets this season, he is batting .230 (40-for-174) with eight homers and 23 RBI in 54 games.
Behind the plate, Rivera has thrown out 10-of-31 runners attempting to steal this season, a 32.3 percent success rate, which would tie for third-best in the National League if he had enough games played to qualify. His success rate this year mirrors his career totals, as he has thrown out 97-of-300 runners attempting to steal, 32.3 percent.
A corresponding move won’t be announced until Rivera is officially activated, but Vic Caratini would be the obvious answer. He’s acquitted himself well of late and it’d kinda suck for him to have to go back to Iowa for a week and a half, but you don’t pick Rivera up to have him be the third catcher. Then again, the Cubs could option Tommy La Stella again if Addison Russell is healthy enough to return.
The 27-year-old Brooks had had a rough go of it at Iowa this season, posting a 6.20 ERA in 24 starts, and I’m a little surprised he made it this far. The Cubs now have seven days to trade or release him, or they could even keep him in the system if things work out.
All told, I’m a big fan of this move and what it means for the Cubs. Rivera has experience, is excellent defensively, and has actually been decent with the bat this season. I like how this helps to bridge the gap until Willson Contreras returns in a few weeks.