Victor Caratini comes to the San Diego Padres adding some catching depth.
The San Diego Padres made a huge splash this offseason when they followed up their Blake Snell deal by trading for Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Zach Davies and prospects. The deal figures to solidify their already strong starting rotation, but in the deal, they also added some catching depth when they acquired Victor Caratini.
Caratini, 27, is a switch-hitter who was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Braves in 2013. He came over to the Cubs in a 2014 trade and was in their organization until the Cubs’ trade with the Padres last month.
He comes to the Padres likely as a backup for Austin Nola. He has also served as a personal catcher for Darvish during their time in Chicago together. It’s hard to argue with the results that they had with Darvish, as the right-handed pitcher put together one of his best seasons when he finished second in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2020.
With the designated hitter in play in the National League in 2020, Caratini saw a lot of playing time. Even though he was the backup catcher to Willson Contreras, he still got into 44 games, catching in 22 of them and DHing in 18 while also seeing a little bit of time at first base as a backup to Anthony Rizzo.
Caratini earned the playing time as he had a great 2019 season. That year, he got into 95 games and posted a .796 OPS with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs. Though the power disappeared in 2020 – he only hit one home run – he got off to a solid start at the plate, batting .309 as late as August 22. However, he batted just .180 after that.
As Darvish is signed through 2023, Caratini isn’t due to become a free agent until 2024, so if the Darvish-Caratini combination continues to work well, the Padres could have the two together for at least three more seasons.
The expectation coming into 2021 should be that he’ll serve as a backup catcher, primarily catching Darvish. However, should he go back to his 2019 hitting form, he might find his way into the lineup more often.