Cubs Trade Proposal Sends $14 Million Catcher to Chicago in 3-Player Deal

Elias Diaz

Getty The Cubs need to make an upgrade at catcher before the trade deadline. Could Rockies backstop Elias Diaz be a realistic target?

While the Chicago Cubs have struggled to a 37-41 record, they’re still in the thick of the National League Wild Card race. One area of the roster where manager Craig Counsell could use an upgrade is behind the plate at catcher. Could Chicago land Colorado Rockies backstop Elias Diaz before the trade deadline?

The Athletic’s Jim Bowden shared one “difference-making trade” proposal for each NL team in the Wild Card race. Here’s what he came up with for the North Siders:

  • Cubs receive: catcher Elias Diaz
  • Rockies receive: right-handed pitchers Brandon Birdsell and Will Sanders

“Last year, Diaz batted .267 with 14 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .752 OPS, and he was the All-Star Game MVP. This year, he’s batting .303 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .791 OPS, all three of which would be career highs,” Bowden said. “Diaz would be a huge offensive upgrade at catcher for the Cubs. He will be a free agent after this season. In return, the Rockies would improve their long-term outlook by adding two mid-level starting pitching prospects to their strong farm system.”

Diaz is in the final season of a three-year, $14.5 million extension he signed in 2021, per Spotrac. The 33-year-old is earning $6 million in 2024 before hitting the open market this winter. Birdsell (20th) and Sanders (27th) are ranked within’s top 30 Cubs prospects.

How Diaz Can Upgrade the Cubs’ Catching Mix

The Cubs’ catching situation hasn’t been good. As of June 24, the unit’s collective -1.3 fWAR is tied with the Chicago White Sox for MLB’s worst. Miguel Amaya and Yan Gomes have mostly shared catching duties. However, Gomes was designated for assignment on June 19 after Chicago signed Tomas Nido.

Amaya posted a .688 OPS as a rookie in 2023, but that number has dropped to .528 over his first 176 plate appearances this season. Nido doesn’t bring much of an offensive reputation, either. He produced a .564 OPS across eight seasons (895 plate appearances) with the New York Mets.

Diaz would generally be a huge offensive upgrade, but he’s also enjoying a career year in the batter’s box. He’s produced a 1.3 fWAR and 107 wRC+ thus far. According to FanGraphs, his best overall season came in 2021 with the Rockies when he posted a 91 wRC+ and 1.7 fWAR in 371 plate appearances.

As with any Colorado player, many might wonder if most of his offensive production is happening at the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. It hasn’t been too lopsided, though. Diaz has produced a .820 OPS at home and a .759 mark on the road as of June 24.

What Are the Chances Chicago Can Reach the Postseason?

The Cubs begin their series against the San Francisco Giants eight games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. There are many NL teams in the same situation as Chicago, though. They enter action on June 24 just two games out of the final NL Wild Card spot. Four teams are between them and that position. But it’s still certainly within reach since plenty of regular season is left.

FanGraphs pegs the Cubs’ postseason odds at 20.6%. That’s quite the difference from where this number stood before the season started. On Opening Day, Chicago had a 41.3% chance of reaching the postseason.

Chicago had a relatively quiet winter after signing Counsell to a $40 million deal to manage the club. The goal was to return to October for the first time since 2020 and win their first playoff game since 2017. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer will need to add before the trade deadline to have a better chance of doing that.

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