Stealing a foundational player from a division rival like the Chicago Cubs is always appetizing, but the clear need at catcher enter 2023 makes this potential marriage with Willson Contreras all the more necessary.
Yadier Molina is now retired, and has easily one of his worst seasons of his career in 2022. Bringing in Contreras allows St. Louis to start the post-Molina era off with a bang, and marks a major upgrade at their weakest position. Contreras has even made his interest in playing for the Cardinals public recently.
Contreras posted a .815 OPS in 2022, which would have been the Cardinals 4th highest OPS in 2022, just behind Goldschmidt, Arenado, and Pujols. That is an over 200 point increase from Andrew Knizner and 280 increase from Yadier Molina. Talk about an upgrade.
Contreras is great behind the plate as well, carrying on the legacy that has been set by Molina for almost two decades. The Cubs catcher has been in the biggest spots this game has to offer and delivered, which should give the Cardinals confidence that he could step into the shoes of a legend like Molina.
Contreras is easily the best catching upgrade available on the open market. The club could look to trade for a catcher, but one of Contreras’ level would likely require top prospects. Contreras won’t get a monster contract like many in free agency, but $20 million+ a year over 4-6 years seems realistic.