After trading with Yu Darvish, the Cubs now buy Willson Contreras.
On opening day, I’m not sure who will be behind the Chicago Cubs court. For several years the team has had one of the best catch duos in the game. After Victor Caratini was traded in the Yu Darvish trade on the San Diego Padres, the Front Office has now focused on trading the other half of that tandem in Willson Contreras.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Chicago is buying the two-time all-star extensively. Long known for his bat skills, Contreras made progress defensively in 2020, particularly when it came to pitch framing. This, along with the fact that he still has two years of arbitration, will no doubt make him a fascinating option for teams looking to strengthen their fishing positions over the next year.
Unlike someone like Kris Bryant or Javier Baez, two other potential trading pieces, Contreras represents a trading chip that a team could control by 2022. Of course, Baez, Bryant, and teammate Anthony Rizzo will all be free to choose by the end of next year campaign.
MLB trade rumors speculate the Nationals, Cardinals, Phillies, Astros, Blue Jays and Yankees as a potential fit for a Contreras deal. Some of them stand out – for different reasons.
At the start of the off-season, Washington was linked to the Cubs in a series of rumors from Kris Bryant. Since then, GM Mike Rizzo has openly denied his team’s reported interest in the former MVP, but it is common knowledge that the Nats are looking for another mid-tier thug. Contreras selects this check box.
The Phillies are still in touch with free agent JT Realmuto, who is widely considered to be the best all-round catcher in the game today. The only problem is that he is reportedly aiming for a nine figure deal. Should Philadelphia turn away from Realmuto, Contreras could prove to be a far more palatable option financially.
As for the Cardinals, I cannot and will not imagine a world in which the Cubs trade Contreras for a division rival. Yadier Molina is still out there and I would envision him returning with the Redbirds to end his career in the big league.
A team you haven’t seen on this list? The Tampa Bay Rays – previously considered “perfect” for a Contreras deal. Why? They have since brought back Mike Zunino and traded for Francisco Mejia this week when they sent Blake Snell to the Padres.
But what I am saying is this. The Cubs have a ton of options when it comes to a Contreras service market. But I’m here to tell you I’m not sure Tom Ricketts will ever do it when the return is as risky and rewarding as the people who passed in the Darvian trade as opposed to a more proven one Talent wants to show its face again in Wrigleyville.