MLB

Willson Contreras rumors: Cubs haven’t discussed extension with top deadline trade candidate, per report

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Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is more than two months away, but all indications point toward Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras being one of the top players available on the market. Consider that earlier this week Contreras told the Chicago media, including Gordon Wittenmyer, that he remains open to discussing a long-term extension. The Cubs front office, however, has not reached out.

“We’re going to have to go through a hearing, and whatever happens there is going to happen, so it doesn’t bother me at all,” Contreras said. (The “hearing” in this case is his arbitration hearing that was delayed by MLB‘s owner-imposed lockout.)

Contreras, 30 years old, is scheduled to qualify for free agency at the end of the season. In his first 32 games, he’s batted .263/.391/.474 (148 OPS+) with five home runs and eight additional extra-base hits. His .865 OPS is the third highest in the majors among catchers with at least 50 trips to the plate, trailing Tyler Stephenson (Reds) and Jonah Heim (Rangers). 

Contreras is hitting the ball harder than he usually has in the past, and he’s sliced into his strikeout rate, reducing it from 28.6 percent to 19.6 percent. What’s more is that his reduced K rate has been accompanied by an improvement in his contact rate. In other words, Contreras may have made genuine, sustainable gains in this arena.

The snag with Contreras is that his defense seldom warrants the same level of praise as his offense does. According to Statcast’s data, he’s been one of the worst receivers in the league this season, with only Robinson Chirinos, Tucker Barnhart, and Jacob Stallings ranking below him.

It’s too early to say for certain which teams will have interest in Contreras. Still, the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays — three of the top teams in the American League — have all received below-average production from their catchers to date.



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