The Chicago Cubs and catcher Willson Contreras avoided arbitration and came to an agreement. Is this a good sign of what’s to come?
As Rogers notes, the salary is the exact midpoint between the figure that the two sides exchanged earlier this offseason. The Cubs had offered $9M and Contreras was looking for $10.25M. Might this be a good sign for Cubs fans who are hoping to see Contreras inked to a long-term contract?
Can the Cubs and Willson Contreras agree on a long-term extension?
Willson Contreras represents the lone remaining piece of the Chicago Cubs’ core that brought a World Series championship to the Windy City for the first time in over 100 years.
Contreras, along with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez, overcame the curse back in 2016 and won the World Series over the the Cleveland Indians, now renamed the Cleveland Guardians.
The Cubs made the decision last summer to purge the roster of all their star players except Contreras. Rizzo was dealt to the New York Yankees, Bryant was shipped out west to the San Francisco Giants, and Javier Baez called the Big Apple home for the remainder of the last season after being traded to the New York Mets.
But the Cubs, strangely, held onto Willson Contreras and had no inclination to trade the backstop this offseason either. Instead, Chicago signed All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman and signed Seiya Suzuki to a massive contract.
So the question now becomes, are the North Siders trying to compete or rebuild? Chicago’s front office may actually be trying to thread that very thin needle of competing this season with an eye toward 2023.
If that’s the case, then the Cubs should undoubtedly attempt to sign Willson Contreras to a long-term contract. There’s no one in the Chicago farm system who could come close to matching Contreras’ production on the field.
Contreras represents the best catcher available in free agency this winter. The next-best backstop might be Omar Narvaez or Tucker Barnhart, but neither catcher matches what Contreras brings to the table.
If the Cubbies want to re-sign Contreras, it won’t be cheap. Their neighbors to the south know all too well how much an offensive-minded catcher costs. The Chicago White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year/$73M contract prior to the 2020. That’s probably a good place to start.
At least now, both the Chicago Cubs and Willson Contreras can put the ugliness of arbitration behind them. Will the two sides engage in further negotiations throughout the season? Will Chicago look to trade Contreras before the Aug. 2 deadline? Both are great questions and we’ll have to stay tuned to find the answers.