Cubs To Sign Austin Romine (

10:31am: Romine’s deal comes with a $1.5MM guarantee,

Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago.

10:00am: The Cubs have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent catcher Austin Romine, reports’s Mark Feinsand (Twitter link). The deal is still pending a physical.

Romine, 32, gives the Cubs an experienced backup option to Willson Contreras, replacing Victor Caratini, who was traded to the Padres as part of the Yu Darvish deal. Romine spent the 2020 season in Detroit — his first professional season anywhere outside the Yankees organization — but managed just a .238/.259/.323 batting line in 135 trips to the dish.

The longtime Yankees backup has never provided much in the way of offense, evidenced by a lifetime .239/.278/.361 slash through 1251 plate appearances. He did turn in a more impressive .281/.310/.439 output during his final year with the Yankees, but that production looks more like an outlier than the start of a new norm for Romine.

Defensively, Romine has generally been regarded as an above-average pitch framer, though his numbers have dipped over the past couple seasons. His career 23 percent caught-stealing rate is south of the roughly 27 percent league average, although Romine reached as high as 30 percent in that regard as recently as 2019. Baseball Prospectus typically rates him as average or better at blocking balls in the dirt.

Romine is standard-fare backup catcher who’ll give the Cubs an experienced option that allows promising youngster Miguel Amaya to open the season in the minor leagues. Should the team still move Contreras, which they’re reportedly open to doing, they’ll need to bring in another catcher, however — one with more upside and the potential to serve as a regular option.

With Romine in the fold, the Cubs’ payroll climbs, modestly, to about $145MM. They’re nowhere near the $200MM+ marks they carried over the past couple seasons (prior to prorating, of course, in 2020), but ownership’s mandate to scale back payroll has been readily apparent for quite some time now.

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