The Cubs signed veteran catcher Tony Wolters to a one-year deal on Wednesday and he will be the backup to begin the season. Catcher Austin Romine was expected to be Willson Contreras’ backup, but the veteran’s right knee sprain has been slow to heal and sidelined him most of the spring.
Minor leaguer PJ Higgins looked like he would be in line for the spot, but the signing of Wolters shows the Cubs are leaning toward experience.
“I think in general, the focus with Wolters was that we liked him this winter,” president Jed Hoyer said. “With Romine’s injury, I think it’s the kind of injury where it’s hard to give a timeframe, but certainly it’s already probably been a touch slower than we thought it would be at the beginning. ... We actually have a ton of faith in PJ Higgins. I thought he did a great job this spring. Acquiring Wolters wasn’t demeaning to PJ in any way. This is more that we had a chance to get a guy that we think is a really good defensive catcher, a left-handed bat that complements Willson, and also add to our depth.”
Wolters, 28, has a career .238/.323/.319 slash line with seven home runs and 123 RBIs over five major league seasons with the Rockies. He opted out of his minor-league deal with the Pirates on Tuesday after not making Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster.
To make room for Wolters on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher James Norwood has been designated for assignment. Norwood was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA over 23 career appearances for the Cubs.