Willson Contreras has been a disappointment for the Cardinals in 2023
Yeah, we all knew this one was coming. Willson Contreras was the Cardinals' marquee move last offseason when the team decided to sign him to a five year deal worth $87.5 million. The rationale here was very sound. Yadier Molina finally retired and the Cardinals wanted a catcher that could absorb that loss both offensively as well as at a defensive position that is very difficult to find quality players to play. Contreras may not have the same defensive pedigree that Yadi had because, well, no one has that. However, he was still a three-time All-Star with the Cubs who could hit, had some power, and the Cardinals were very familiar with.
Sadly, that is not how things have worked out so far. We'll start with the offense and it isn't pretty. Contreras has posted career lows so far in most offensive categories in his first season with the Cardinals including a .217/.303/.374 line with eight homers through 71 games. Again, not exactly what the Cardinals were hoping for from a guy they committed $10 million for 2023 and then $18 million+ for the next four seasons after that.
The news gets worse defensively. While Contreras has graded out as "okay" behind the plate when looking at Fangraphs' defensive rating, his framing has been pretty abysmal. In fact, his preparation and prowess behind the plate was so questioned that it caused a heap of drama between the Cardinals' pitching staff, manager Oliver Marmol, and Contreras including a brief move to DH. Things seem to have settled down since then, but the results have still been pretty poor.
Jordan Montgomery has been one of the few Cardinals pitchers that has done his job
On the bright side, Jordan Montgomery has been a nice silver lining for a Cardinals pitching staff that has really needed one. The Cardinals' rotation ranks just 17th in all of MLB in fWAR and their team starting pitching ERA of 4.81 is 23rd in the league as of now.
However, one cannot fault Montgomery for those numbers. Through 16 starts this season, Jordan has posted a 3.53 ERA and 3.50 FIP with a 8.33 K/9 and very low 2.25 BB/9. By fWAR, he has been the eighth best starting pitcher in the National League in 2023, so hats off to him for doing his job.
Montgomery is known to Cardinals' fans, but hasn't been mentioned enough nationally for the work he has done. One hopes that he and the Cardinals can find a way for him to stick around, but he is slated to become a free agent after this season as things stand now.