(Story Updated) The St. Louis Cardinals have signed catcher Willson Contreras
The St. Louis Cardinals pursuit of a new catcher seems to have come to a conclusion, as reports indicate that they have signed catcher Willson Contreras to a 5-year, $87.5 million deal per Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was first on the report that a deal was close, after Tuesday’s Winter Meetings seemed to indicate that Contreras was more and more likely to become a St. Louis Cardinal by the end of the week.
This is a huge move for St. Louis, as they go from among one of the worst offensively at the position to one of the best in baseball overnight. In 2022, Contreras hit .243/.349/.466 with 22 HR and 55 RBI in 223 games for the Cubs and was a National League All-Star. There are concerns about his ability behind the plate defensively, and he did only catch in 72 games in 2022, but his bat does play in a major way.
The Cardinals could choose to have Contreras be their designated hitter some days with how good his bat is, but that would likely require the team to carry three catchers on their roster, which is something to note. In meeting with Contreras this week, manager Oli Marmol was said to have “liked his fire”.
One really cool part about this is that Contreras wanted to be a St. Louis Cardinal. The idea of being the successor to his friend, Yadier Molina, and playing for a winning organization drew him to St. Louis is a big way.
For St. Louis, they decided the that the cost to acquire Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy was too much, but still maintained their position that they wanted to improve significantly at the position. This is a different mentality then St. Louis typically takes, publicly naming their biggest need and actually going out and acquiring one of the best options.