If you missed the news late yesterday afternoon, the Cubs made a trade with the Kansas City Royals. In a deal that was essentially the equivalent of a waiver pickup since it was player for cash, the Cubs acquired the services of George Kottaras.
He’s a former 20th round pick by the Padres in 2002 and will be 31 this upcoming season. Based on what is currently in the system, we could be looking at out backup catcher. His stats are not pretty, posting a career .214 / .324 / .406 slash line. What you do like to see is the gap between the average at the on base percentage. It’s always encouraging when you see that 100+ point difference there because you know he has the ability to judge the strike zone and draw walks.
I dug up the old John Sickels prospect handbook and found this scouting report written in 2006.
“Kottaras’ 2005 campaign was a fine follow-up to his breakout ’04 season, where he played very well in A-ball but also appeared on the international stage as a member of the Greek Olympic baseball team. Returning to the US in ’05, he continued to to develop offensively, honing his strike zone judgement while keeping his power output and batting average at strong levels. His OPS in the California League was +6 percent, but it increased to +11 percent after his promotion to Double-A. I think he projects as a .260-.285 hitter in the majors, with 10-15 homers a season and a nice on base percentage. Kottaras has a strong arm and good mobility behind the plate, although his footwork can be a problem sometimes, inhibiting his throwing. Still, his glove is good enough for him to start if he hit as expected.”
It doesn’t appear that he’s reached that ceiling, and I think Cubs fans will realize quickly how good we had it last year with Dioner Navarro as the backup catcher since he was essentially a starter filling that role. This seems like a move to fill the position with another veteran on the cheap and hope he hits well enough to be serviceable. It also gives the job to Castillo for sure.