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Logan Hanson Logan Hanson

Willson Contreras’ top five landing spots if Cubs trade him

CHICAGO (BVM) – Even All-Stars cannot avoid the wrath that is MLB’s trade deadline. A year after the Chicago Cubs sent away team stars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, the franchise appears set to be sellers at the deadline again, this time moving on from one of the last pieces remaining from the World Series roster.

Catcher Willson Contreras, who is set to represent the Cubs as the National League’s starting catcher in the upcoming All-Star Game, will likely be dealt around the trade deadline as his contract expires following the end of the year. Given his strong start to the season, Contreras will be seen as a high-quality piece that could help a contending team make a late run. But who will land the coveted backstop? Here are the likeliest landing spots:

  1. Los Angeles Angels

This would be a fun one for Angels fans. Putting the power hitting catcher in a lineup with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani is nothing if not interesting for the Halos. Given the team’s No. 27 ranking in catcher Wins Above Replacement, there is a definite need and adding an All-Star of Contreras’ caliber would be appealing. 

However, there are some problems, namely the team’s low-ranking farm system which currently has zero players within MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. Could there be a package without a prospect star the Cubs would go for? Possibly. But with the team being in full-rebuild mode, that would be a hard sell.

  1. Houston Astros

Another American League West team in search of some backstop help, Contreras would fit in well with the hard-hitting Astros given his strong bat. A team of Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman getting even more help from a player of Contreras’ caliber would be huge, even more so for the pitching staff as the catcher would be a welcomed addition to a unit that is ranked No. 29 in position WAR.

However, the Astros again fall into the same category as the Angels. They don’t have the high-end talent that may appeal to the Cubs. Houston ranks as the No. 29 farm system out of the 30 MLB franchises and only has the No. 84 prospect, left-handed pitcher Hunter Brown, in MLB.com’s Top 100 making this landing spot again less appealing for the North Side.

  1. San Francisco Giants

The Giants are a team that played well beyond expectations last season. This year, the team has fallen a bit back down to Earth, but fans and ownership likely see a window of opportunity that may close sooner than later. With the No. 13 WAR at the position, San Francisco’s need for a catcher isn’t as glaring as some of the other teams on the list, but the production has been rather lackluster.

With the retirement of Buster Posey in the offseason, whose bounceback final season was a catalyst for the Giants’ strong play a season ago, perhaps adding another offensively gifted backstop would be beneficial to the unit. After sending top prospect Joey Bart back down to the minors in early June due to his poor play, the Giants could use Contreras for a back-half rental while Bart looks to make the final jump. Given their No. 11 ranked farm system and three prospects in the top 100, a package could appeal to the Cubs more than others on this list.

  1. Cleveland Guardians

Currently battling in a tight AL Central division race, the Guardians find themselves just two games out of the Wild Card picture and just 4.5 games back from the division-leading Twins. With the No. 26 WAR at the catcher position, an upgrade at the backstop could help the team make a late-season push and Contreras seems to be a good answer for the unit.

In this instance, Cleveland seems to have all the Cubs could want. With a farm system that ranks No. 12 in the league and a whopping seven players in the top 100 prospects in the league at positions of need for the North Siders, this deal could be a marriage made in heaven. However, the problem becomes the Guardians’ mentality. Never really buyers at the deadline and possessing one of the lowest salary caps in the league, Cleveland may not be willing to take on the Contreras contract, preferring to instead see what the team can do on its own.

  1. New York Mets

With the franchise having one of the best starts in team history, the Mets are looking to be all hands on deck to bring the city a title. While the team is leading the NL East, they are currently looking up at the Los Angeles Dodgers for the No. 1 seed in the league and have a red-hot Atlanta Braves team breathing down their neck in the division. Something that could put the team at ease is some improvement from their catchers as New York sits at No. 23 in WAR at the position and their catchers have hit a total of three home runs among the three rotational players.

Enter Contreras who is not only leading all NL backstops with 13 home runs but also has the highest batting average and OPS in the league at the position as well. Like the Guardians, the Mets are also blessed with a talented farm system that ranks at No. 20 in the league but is filled with top-end talent including three prospects in the top 55 and four in the top 100. The biggest thing standing in the way of this deal is one said prospect is catcher Francisco Álvarez who ranks No. 2 in all of baseball, though he is not expected to jump to the bigs until 2023. The other issue is the Cubs and Mets already made a deal last season when Chicago shipped Baez to the Big Apple. Perhaps the Mets don’t have anyone the Cubs covet as they already landed a big fish in Pete Crow-Armstrong from the team a year ago.