Cubs Sign Catcher Jorge Alfaro to Minors Deal with Camp Invite

The Cubs took a step toward addressing their need for catching depth by signing former top-100 prospect Jorge Alfaro to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite to spring training. This marks the conclusion of a long flirtation with Alfaro, who was mentioned as part of potential Willson Contreras trades involving the Marlins in 2021 and the Padres in ’22. The latter was a pretty loose connection, but still.

Alfaro rose through the prospect rankings due to his 70-grade raw power and hit 18 homers with the Marlins in 2019 as he got 465 plate appearances. He’s only reached 300 PAs in two of his seven other seasons, mainly due to his exceedingly poor plate discipline. You’re not going to get much slack when you strike out 34% of the time and only walk at a 4.2% clip.

A career 86 wRC+ and .299 wOBA just haven’t been enought to keep Alfaro in the lineup very often even with strong blocking skills and a big arm. That was the case last season as he bounced between the Red Sox, Rockies, and Marlins on minor league deals, logging just 52 big-league PAs. Originally signed by the Rangers as an IFA, Alfaro was traded to Philly in the Cole Hamels deal before being shipped to Miami as part of the package for J.T. Realmuto.

The Marlins later traded Alfaro to the Padres for cash in 2022 and he played pretty well for San Diego, collecting four walk-off hits that season. He was non-tendered, however, then joined the Red Sox on a minors deal. He was later released and caught on with the Rockies, who DFA’d him after 10 games. The Red Sox came calling again and Alfaro played in eight games before being DFA’d again.

Another stint with the Marlins organization late last season followed, and now he’s with the Cubs. This feels like a deal where the Cubs need a little depth and are hoping for lightning in a bottle, but it’s really hard to see a path for Alfaro sans misfortune. Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya are the clear-cut big league catchers and that isn’t changing anytime soon.

Pretty fun that this is the first move the Cubs have made since things started to move in the market.

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