Cubs

Catcher looks like next trade-deadline move for Cubs: ‘We have a lot of hooks in the water’

Catcher looks like next trade-deadline move for Cubs: ‘We have a lot of hooks in the water’

Adding a veteran catcher sounds like the next trade-deadline move for a Cubs team built around pitching and defense and Willson Contreras’ almost unlimited supply of energy. 

“We have a lot of hooks in the water right now,” general manager Jed Hoyer said before Tuesday’s 7-2 win over the White Sox at Wrigley Field. “But whether or not something happens soon, I’m not sure.”

The Cubs aren’t hunting for a big fish, because Contreras has already become one of their most valuable players, a dangerous cleanup hitter, a physically gifted thrower and receiver and an eager student when it comes to the team’s sophisticated game-planning system. Just look at how Contreras set the tone by launching a Carlos Rodon fastball 417 feet onto Waveland Avenue for a three-run homer in the first inning. 

With that in mind, the Cubs are not as high on Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila as some reports indicate. The Cubs also don’t have Jonathan Lucroy near the top of their list, sources said, because the Texas Rangers catcher needs to play regularly to be effective and would ideally go to a situation where he could showcase what made him a two-time All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers and recoup some free-agent value after a disappointing walk year (.632 OPS).

Leading up to the July 31 deadline, the Cubs are actively looking at backup plans where rookie catcher Victor Caratini would return to Triple-A Iowa – where he hit .341 in 69 games before Miguel Montero’s epic rant – and become a September call-up. 

If the Cubs stay focused on a veteran backup who will only play once a week, A.J. Ellis could make sense. The price would be less than $1 million in salary and wouldn’t cost a top-tier prospect. The Miami Marlins are sellers and Ellis – who used to work as Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher – knows the pitching infrastructure catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello helped design for the Cubs after their time together around Brad Ausmus with the Los Angeles Dodgers.    

“We’re still in that process,” Hoyer said. “I think some teams prioritize timing. They have a bunch of deals they need to make, and so they’ll say: ‘OK, we’re going to move this guy by Thursday.’ Sometimes it happens…right now, we’re kind of sorting out that. 

[MOREWillson Contreras may be ‘the f------ Energizer Bunny,’ but Cubs still need to get another catcher before trade deadline]

“But a lot of this time of the year is about timing. Unless the team prioritizes moving early, then usually things aren’t going to happen for another four or five days.”

This sounds like a matter of when – not if – but the Cubs won’t rush to get their new catcher in uniform before this weekend’s showdown against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

“If it happens, that’s great,” Hoyer said. “But otherwise it’s kind of a false deadline. You want to careful not to react to that. You don’t want to do a deal for a couple games.” 

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father — Max Venable — played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

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Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

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USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

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