The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to pursue Willson Contreras this offseason, and it appears the Chicago Cubs won’t be trying to stop them.
Yadier Molina’s retirement creates a huge void at catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras has already indicated interest in joining the National League Central Champions.
Recent reports have added fire to a potential Cardinals-Contreras marriage, as the Cubs will reportedly move on from Contreras this offseason. There has been speculation the last few months that the Cubs may want to bring back their star catcher, but insider Bob Nightengale says Contreras’ time in Chicago is over.
"“He’s gone, for sure. The Cubs really had no interest in keeping him,” Nightengale said on NBC’s Sports Sunday. “They talked [about] a contract last spring, and that was pretty much it. They couldn’t get what they wanted to trade down the line, which may scare him a little bit – the fact that nobody was willing to offer any amount to something better than a draft pick the Cubs would get. So he’ll walk and we’ll see where he ends up.”"
This is huge news for the Cardinals pursuit of Contreras. One would have to think that if the Cubs made a major play for their catcher, he would likely return to Chicago. Being on the open market with Chicago not in play makes the Cardinals a very likely destination for the catcher.
Cubs team president Jed Hoyer confirmed on Monday that the club will offer a qualifying offer to Contreras, which does make things interesting for any team that pursues Contreras. The Cardinals would lose their third round selection and the Cubs would receive a Competitive Balance Round B selection, but that should not deter St. Louis if they are interested.
Contreras slashed .243/.349/.466 with 22 HR and 55 RBI in 113 games this season. To put into context how much of an improvement this would be for St. Louis, Cardinals catchers combined for .209/.261/.291 with 9 HR and 48 RBI in 162 games this season. Adding the 30-year old catcher to their lineup turns the position from a major liability to a major strength.
Keep tabs on this situation as the offseason approaches. Where there is smoke, there is fire, and there is a lot of smoke with the Contreras to St. Louis rumors.