Willson Contreras gets yanked from behind the plate
When the Cardinals signed Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million contract before the season, they saw him as a worthy successor to Yadier Molina. But the Cardinals clearly didn’t receive what they expected defensively from Contreras, because on May 6, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced that Contreras would no longer be the team’s catcher.
The decision received plenty of flak from fans and analysts, who widely questioned how the Cardinals could not have expected the performance, or lack thereof, that they received from Contreras behind the plate. According to one report, several pitchers expressed that they did not want to pitch to Contreras, and in July, New York Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay revealed that he was told that Contreras had been calling for pitches that weren't in pitchers' arsenals.
The Cardinals eventually returned Contreras to his familiar role behind the plate, but Cardinals color commentator Brad Thompson believes that in 2024, the Cardinals will use Contreras primarily as a designated hitter and outfielder instead of as a catcher.
The Cardinals haven’t done a good job of disguising the buyer's remorse from Contreras. Although Contreras' offense picked up after some early struggles, the Cardinals are clearly dissatisfied with his catching prowess, and if Thompson is correct and the Cardinals commit to removing him from the position, the Cardinals will have an extremely expensive designated hitter on their hands.