Today, it was reported by Bob Nightengale that the Cubs are now shopping their 28-year-old catcher Willson Contreras. Contreras has been one of the best and most consistent catchers in the league since 2017 and has major power upside and one of the best arms in the league. I imagine there will be many teams after him as he is still in his prime and has two years of control left. I am not going to pretend like I know how to value him because of how the current market is, but I’d imagine the Cubs would at least get one highly touted prospect in return for Contreras. Here are 5 potential landing spots for Contreras to land:
Contreras heads west and links up with Mike Trout
The Angels were reportedly in on James McCann, but lost the bidding war to the Mets. In 2020, Max Stassi took most of the reps behind the plate for the Halos. Stassi had a solid year, batting .278 with an OPS of .886. There is, however, reason to believe Stassi might have been a one year wonder, as this was his best season by far in the past 4 years. The Angels would be bringing in a catcher with major upside and growing room that they could plug into the lineup behind Trout and Rendon. Contreras could also help the pitchers for the Angels, as he has been very successful with helping the Cubs’ pitchers succeed. The Angels have a couple lower end top 100 prospects that I could see them dealing to try and get to the playoffs, as you lose a year of Mike Trout every year you don’t make it. I could see Brandon Marsh heading to Chicago in a for swap Contreras.
Contreras crosses the border and heads to the North
The Blue Jays have been click-bait central this offseason as they have been linked to any and every free agent and trade candidate. They seem primed to have a big offseason to try and capitalize on the young and extremely talented roster they have. The Blue Jays ranked 23rd in total OPS among catchers in 2020, so it is clearly a position they could use help with. They have been linked to J.T. Realmuto, but perhaps they decide to go with Contreras and sign someone else to a major contract. Contreras would fit in with that young and exciting core and help Toronto stay relevant and head back to the playoffs in 2021. I could see a deal involving one of Toronto’s top pitching prospects in Simeon Woods-Richardson.
Contreras and Gary Sanchez recreate the Bronx Tale
Gary Sanchez was… bad in 2020. There have been rumors of the Yankees potentially moving him or going in on J.T. Realmuto, but I don’t realistically see this happening. I think bringing in Contreras for at least two years would light a fire under Sanchez’s ass and even if Contreras decides to move on in 2022, they will have a newly motivated and much better Gary Sanchez still. Catcher is the only position where a logjam is totally fine and actually very beneficial for a team. The Yankees would be able to mess around with their lineup and let Sánchez or Contreras hit at the DH on some days. Contreras would be a major upgrade as it pertains to fielding and I believe Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and Deivi Garcia could really benefit from this move, as they can avoid unnecessary runners moving up a base. I could certainly see the Yankees parting ways with Clarke Schmidt to bring in Contreras to make that lineup even scarier than it already is.
Miami gets a new Leader
This could be Kim Ng’s first major move. The Marlins are certainly a lower budget team, but they have a loaded farm system that they can offer up to bring in the new face of the franchise. Contreras still has those two years of control left at a rather low salary, so he could fit the Marlins tiny budget. The Marlins used five different catchers in 2020, but their main guy is Jorge Alfaro who they got from the Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto trade. Alfaro had a very disappointing 2020 campaign and perhaps they can send him to the Cubs in a potential Contreras trade. Contreras would bring in a World Series mentality that the Marlins are currently lacking and for sure help all of the young talent continue to get better. I think Sixto Sanchez would be very happy to throw to Contreras and have some extra run support. I think an Alfaro and lower end prospect trade could work for both sides.
Contreras and Bregman team up in H-Town
The Astros made it pretty far in the 2020 playoffs with a team that was degraded and pretty much all had a down year. They are on the verge of losing two of their best hitters in George Springer and Michael Brantley, but still have enough talent on the roster to make a run in 2021. Their current catcher for 2021 is set to be Martin Maldonado, who I believe is a very solid backup but not good enough to help a team get to the World Series as a starter. The Astros would be bringing in a very solid bat at a cheap price that would make the lineup much deeper than it will be when they lose Springer. I believe Contreras is also the kind of guy who will be able to deal with the constant hate and booing the Astros will get once fans are allowed back into stadiums. The AL West is still rather weak and the Astros can capitalize on this by bringing in Contreras. Adding him would make them a serious threat to the A’s 2021 hopes of winning the AL West. The Astros’ farm system is rather depleted but I can see them packaging between 3 to 5 names to get Contreras.
I believe Contreras will be moved before the season starts, as the Cubs look to be in serious financial trouble and are trying to get any and all money off their books as soon as possible. If I had to guess, I’d predict him to be an Angel before March, but I think he is going to be sought out by many teams as a lot of the contending teams are not solidified at catcher for 2021, and there aren’t many opportunities to get a stud in their prime for a discounted rate.