Free-agent catcher Willson Contreras signing 5-year take care of Cardinals: Supply

Free-agent catcher Willson Contreras is signing a five-year take care of the Cardinals, a league supply confirmed to The Athletic on Wednesday. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported information of the Cardinals closing in on an settlement with Contreras and ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported phrases of the $87.5 million deal, which is pending a bodily. Right here’s what you might want to know:

  • Contreras signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cubs in July 2009 and was promoted to the major-league crew in 2016.
  • He was the one remaining lively place participant from Chicago’s 2016 World Collection roster on the finish of final season.
  • Contreras turned down the Cubs’ qualifying provide on Nov. 15 and headed into free company. Chicago will get a compensatory decide after Aggressive Steadiness Spherical B.
  • Contreras’ contract is the most important free-agent deal ever by the Cardinals for a participant who didn’t beforehand play for the membership.

Scouting report

Contreras has spent all seven years of his profession with the Chicago Cubs and was extensively thought of the catching market’s prime free agent. An All-Star for the Cubs in 2022, Contreras was coming off an age-30 season wherein he hit .243/.349/.466 with 22 dwelling runs.

“I’m in a spot that I dreamed to be in, this can be a spot that I needed to be (in) since I used to be a child,” Contreras beforehand stated. “I did all the pieces I might to achieve free company. So it makes me proud. On the similar time, it makes me slightly nostalgic to go away my crew. However all the pieces occurs for a cause.”

Contreras might not be an ideal catcher; he might not thrive on the mushy components of the sport and be the proper recreation planner. However there are few catchers who can boast having caught a veteran-laden workers throughout a World Collection run as a rookie. And even fewer who can present the kind of offense Contreras simply did this previous season when he delivered a 132 wRC+ and slugged over 20 dwelling runs for the fourth time in his profession. Contreras works onerous, has spectacular vitality and followers appear to gravitate towards him.

“The followers recognize how onerous I work,” he stated. “I’m a man that offers 100%, and so they see the hassle.”

How Contreras matches with the Cardinals

For the Cardinals, the signing of Contreras addresses two evident wants. They’ve crammed the outlet left by Yadier Molina, who retired on the finish of the 2022 season, with some of the productive offensive catchers in baseball. The Cardinals have additionally boosted their coronary heart of the order — an space the entrance workplace recognized as a necessity — with Contreras more likely to slot behind 2022 Nationwide League MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

In a media session Tuesday afternoon, supervisor Oli Marmol expanded on earlier conferences he participated in with Contreras and Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, describing Contreras as a “superb competitor.”

“We talked about loving profitable and this can be a man that likes to win,” Marmol stated. “He wakes up fascinated about it and goes to sleep fascinated about it. We’ve seen that fairly a bit from throughout the way in which.”

On Monday, Mozeliak expressed optimism the Cardinals would depart San Diego with a long-term beginning catcher in place. Because the winter conferences put together to wrap up, he can be doing simply that, as he’s secured a prime free agent from the Cardinals’ largest rival. — Woo

Who’re the Cardinals getting in Contreras?

Somebody who will pour his vitality into proving the Cubs fallacious. That aspect of Contreras’ edgy persona ought to assist create an instantaneous bond with Cardinals followers, including some juice to a rivalry that dates again to 1892. A much less completed catcher could possibly be intimidated by the thought of changing Molina in St. Louis. However Contreras’ steadfast confidence in his talents pushed him via components of eight seasons within the minors earlier than making his major-league debut, helped the Cubs finish a 108-year championship drought, and in the end satisfied him to wager on himself as a free agent.

It can clearly take time to be taught a special system and develop relationships with new pitchers. The problem of doing that in the course of the center of the season contributed to what Cubs officers described as a “tepid” marketplace for Contreras’ providers at this yr’s commerce deadline. Contreras doesn’t have the best fame as a defensive catcher, however he compensates for that with a powerful arm, the power to manage the working recreation and block pitches within the filth, a .800-plus profession OPS and a willingness to mentor gamers from Latin America. — Mooney

How will the Cubs exchange Contreras?

All alongside, the Cubs ready for this eventuality, working as in the event that they wanted to discover a new catcher to pair with Yan Gomes. To call just a few, the Cubs have met with Christian Vázquez, completed background work on Omar Narváez and mentioned Tucker Barnhart. Seeing Contreras in a Cardinals uniform can be jarring at first, however this separation from a homegrown All-Star participant didn’t precisely catch the crew off-guard.

President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer believed he had a trade-deadline deal for Contreras with the Astros — till Houston proprietor Jim Crane overruled since-fired normal supervisor James Click on and vetoed the transfer. That last-minute shock crushed Hoyer’s leverage and compelled the Cubs to accept a draft decide as a substitute of pitcher José Urquidy. It didn’t change the group’s pondering on how the place ought to be valued transferring ahead. The Cubs desire a defense-first catcher. — Mooney

Required studying

(Picture: David Banks / USA At the moment)

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