Let’s Talk About Those Contreras based Cubs/Marlins Rumors
After an offseason that has seen nothing but players signed to minor league deals, their left fielder being non-tendered only to sign a contract with the Washington Nationals worth MORE money than Chicago would have had to pay him, and having dealt their 2020 Cy-Young runner-up pitcher to the San Diego Padres for high-risk, high-reward prospects, the Cubs continue their quest of absolutely messing with the minds of fans and experts. President of Baseball Operations, Jed Hoyer, who has repeatedly told Chicago reporters and national media that this is not a rebuild, is now shopping back-to-back (2018, 2019) All-Star catcher, Willson Contreras, and it appears as though the Miami Marlins are the team that are taking the bait.
Contreras is set to make just over $6M in arbitration this season, and still has one more year of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency at the conclusion of the 2022 season. There is no salary dump in this contract, as they used as grounds for the Yu Darvish trade. The Cubs are well under the luxury tax for this upcoming season, and Contreras is a player that can immediately make any team in this league better with him in the lineup and behind the plate; including the Cubs. These reports contradict everything Hoyer and team owner Tom Ricketts have told us up until this point. Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, had this to say of the Contreras rumors, “Contreras, 28, has the ability to be one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. He’s a career .265/.351/.463 (113 OPS+) hitter. He also has an excellent arm behind the plate and improved his framing by leaps and bounds last season. He’s under team control for two more years before hitting free agency.”
We get it, the Cubs are trying to be competitive in the upcoming season and beyond 2021 as well, but how does trading Contreras for a bag of chips improve the Cubs ability to win in the future? Trading Contreras would leave all hope relied on Chicago’s #3 ranked 21-year old prospect, Miguel Amaya (#91 on MLB’s top 100 list). Victor Caratini is already gone, as he was included in the Davrish deal. The Cubs would HAVE to get their choice at one (or two) of Miami’s six prospects all featured in MLB’s top 100, none of which are catchers, in any deal for Contreras for it to be considered a win for the Cubs.
According to Spotrac, the Chicago Cubs had the third highest payroll in baseball in 2020, and with the contracts they have let expire and trades they have made, as things currently stand, the Cubs now have just the twelfth highest payroll, dropping 9 slots between seasons. Replacing a catcher who is just entering his prime like Contreras seems like a bold decision for the Cubs to make with such an affordable team friendly contract, and seeing as how Hoyer boggled the Darvish trade, the Cubs are unlikely to get any of Miami’s top recruits for a catcher that will allow the Marlins to remain in win-now mode. Things in Chicago don’t appear to be great, but after all, this is how the Theo-Era began before assembling a World Series championship roster. Time will tell as to what the future brings for the Cubs and Contreras, but many fans are hopeful that the team will halt all efforts to subtract from this roster as the NL Central still appears to be very winnable for this Cubs team in 2021.