CHICAGO (BVM) – 2022 seemed to be a draining season for Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. Multiple send-offs were offered by the Wrigley faithful before the MLB trade deadline just for the all-star catcher to find himself still with the team on Aug. 3.
With all the emotions of his possible farewell tour, Contreras still found a way to enjoy a near career-best season as he posted one of his best campaigns at the plate. Although the 30-year-old catcher slowed down during the second half of the year, he still posted 22 home runs and finished with a 3.9 WAR, the second highest of his career.
With the expectations that Contreras will find a new home entering the 2023 season, here’s a look at who may make a run at the Cubs’ free agent.
A disappointing 2022 campaign has the Tigers primed for a busy offseason. With young talent around the diamond, the team will certainly be in search of a new backstop entering the upcoming season after less than stellar play from Tucker Barnhart. Contreras would certainly add a much needed bat to the lineup and would be an upgrade behind the plate as well. Even though the free agent catcher ranks near the middle in pitch framing statistics, his work does outpace what the team received from Barnhart. With connections to Tigers general manager and former Cubs front office member, Scott Harris, and current shortstop, Javy Baez, the fit might just make sense for both sides.
Rumors in recent days have pointed to a near deal for Contreras at the trade deadline but things fell through at the final minute. A chance to make good on bringing in the 30-year-old catcher could be in the cards for the recent World Series champions. Although the Astros have banked on defensive-minded backstops in recent seasons, adding a bat like Contreras’ would only add to one of the deepest lineups in the sport. Houston will have to determine if the price may be too steep, but signing Contreras would only continue the positive momentum the Astros have had over the past year.
St. Louis Cardinals
Contreras shocked the Cubs’ fan base towards the end of the season following his comments surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals. Contreras mentioned that he had talked with current players within the Cardinals organization to gauge their opinion on the team’s environment. The late-season remarks may mean that the free agent catcher is looking to head to his team’s division rival this offseason after struggling to find common ground with the Cubs over the past year. With Yadier Molina retiring following the 2022 season, the Cardinals will be in a rare spot as they determine who will lead the position group next season. With an experienced catcher hitting free agency, it may be that both sides have found the perfect fit.