REPORT: The Willson Contreras Trade Talk Is Officially On


Here we go, Cubs fans.

If you don’t like rumors, then you might as well log off until spring training begins because for the next four months that’s mostly what we’re going to get. This offseason especially, when you factor in Cubs ownership not committing to any major free agent signings and basically forcing the front office to trade from their core to re-tool their roster, while still trying to stay competitive in upcoming seasons.

After the 2019 season ended Theo Epstein made it clear that this winter he’d be listening to trade offers more closely than ever before. That includes most of the core guys in Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and Willson Contreras.

Of course, listening to offers is different than guys being shopped around. It would take a huge deal for the Cubs to consider trading Bryant or Báez, but what about Contreras? Well, the Contreras trade talk is off and running.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan passed along some notes before the start of the winter meetings and one included the belief that Contreras will be available this offseason in a trade.

When you take a step back and remove any emotions from the possibility of trading Contreras it kind of makes the most sense for the Cubs. Again, this is a reminder that the Cubs should be adding pieces to their core instead of trading from their core, but that’s the reality we’re in. Don’t shoot the messenger. I hate it too.

But if the Cubs are going to make big changes they can get a good return for Contreras, while still keeping their best players.

Contreras, 27, is in his first year of arbitration and won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season. While he’s been a good hitter since making his MLB debut in 2016, other than his second-half struggles in 2018, Contreras’ value has been negatively impacted because of his skills behind the plate.

Despite a 127 wRC+ and .888 OPS in 2019, Contreras only posted a 2.7 fWAR this past season. His pitch framing has been rated at the bottom of the league, which has hurt his overall value despite his cannon for an arm and outstanding athleticism for a catcher.

You can also argue that pitch framing, his biggest deficiency, might not even matter in a few years as an automated strike zone will be featured in some minor league ballparks in 2020. Maybe it’ll be in MLB soon?

Again, the Cubs should be adding to the talent they already have, not taking away from it. But these rumors aren’t going away anytime soon and the best we can do is figure out and debate what the next best thing is if the Cubs do indeed trade from their core.

Let’s say the Cubs do trade Contreras, but end up actually signing Yasmani Grandal? That would be great for the Cubs.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Contreras has popped up in trade rumors. Last offseason there were rumblings that the Cubs were considering moving on from Contreras.

We’ll see. Long way to go this offseason, but the big time rumors have officially started.