The St. Louis Cardinals rumors show them to be deep in conversation with Willson Contreras but is his defense too much of a concern to sign him?
Willson Contreras is a point of focus for Cardinals this off-season to replace Yadier Molina as he has proved throughout his career to be a winner. It has been reported that the Cardinals may have an offer on the table for possibly 3 years or more and near the known asking price. But the only hold up may be in the length of the contract as both sides let the market progress.
Willson Contreras’ ability batting is no question at all. He posts a career 115 OPS+ through his accoladed 7 seasons with the Chicago Cubs and is coming off a 128 OPS+ 2022 season.
His durability is solid as well. Over his last 6 full seasons he was penciled in the lineup card over 75% of all games played. As a catcher, posting up like that is very likable for the Redbirds and many other suitors looking to acquire his services.
However, over the past 19 years Cardinals fans have become accustomed to excellence behind the plate defensively guiding our pitching staff with Yadier Molina. Can Wilson Contreras be that piece?
By the numbers, he was very average at best defensively and considerably worse in respect to Yadier Molina. Last season, his framing FRM according to FanGraphs was -3.5. In respect to Yadi and his age 39 season he was still remarkable at 5.7. Stealing strikes is vital to help pitchers get ahead and stay ahead.
In terms of Defensive Runs Saved DRS, Contreras was below average and posted a -4 in 2022. In comparison to Yadier Molina he had 9 DRS. That is a wide gap between the two and if 1 created is estimated around 10 runs via my Jaybird Baseball Statistics model then he could be 1.5 wins created worth less than Yadi defensively.
If the Cardinals land Willson Contreras I cannot say I would be unhappy, however as fans we have to be realistic to what services a player brings to the table. He better hit like an All-Star or the value of spending a high AAV will not be worth it. One has to consider, is it better to go with what we know and bring in a solid defender via trade while bringing in a bat in another way?
Personally, defense is inexcusable to falter in 3 positions: Catcher, Shortstop, and Center Field. Maybe getting Willson Contreras is not the right move because of it.