Willson Contreras should be on the Cardinals trade block
Going into the last offseason, Mozeliak’s primary goal was signing a catcher to replace legendary backstop, Yadier Molina. Signing Willson Contreras to a five-year $87.5 million deal allowed Mozeliak to complete that goal. Instead of capitalizing on the deal and continuing to improve the team in the area they’ve had the most glaring issues, Contreras was it.
There have been plenty of excuses for why the Cardinals didn’t make moves for pitching last offseason, but it has reached a fever pitch, and now a deal for pitching wouldn’t just be excellent. It is now an essential deal for the Cardinals.
The season began with plenty of frustration as the pitchers were not used to their new catcher. Instead of talking behind closed doors and working out the issues privately, the matter was made public. Marmol demoted Contreras to be the team’s designated hitter while he worked on things with the pitching staff. Within a week, Contreras was named the team’s starting catcher again after working one-on-one with the pitching staff to determine their needs and how he would help.
This is another in a series of issues that should never have been made public, and it suggests other issues linger in the clubhouse. Contreras is working to gain the trust of the pitching staff, and then Marmol and Mozeliak are each publicly critical of him. It would be frustrating to be in Contreras’s shoes.
But Contreras has been impressive in his professionalism during the whole ordeal. He’s hitting .240/.334/.419 with an OPS of .754. He has 20 doubles, ten home runs, five stolen bases, 35 runs scored, and 36 RBI.
It’s interesting to note that backup catcher Andrew Knizner is now on the injured list after a severe groin injury. The Cardinals brought up Ivan Herrera to get a chance to fill in, which he has nicely. Herrera was once believed to be the heir apparent to Molina.
With Herrera getting an excellent opportunity as backup, it makes you wonder if a deal involving Contreras, Knizner, or Herrera is possible. Herrera has been a highly thought-of prospect in the organization. Significantly, he was believed to be Molina’s heir as a catcher. Knizner getting hurt after having a decent season is unfortunate.
Trading away Contreras would be the worst move the Cardinals could make. It would signal to a skeptical part of the fanbase that Mozeliak thinks he made a mistake in signing Contreras. That would encourage those vocally opposed to Mozeliak, which won’t happen. Contreras has been a fun jolt to the clubhouse, and the pitching staff has warmed up. Contreras wants to be a St. Louis Cardinals, and his professionalism is essential as the Cardinals power through the next few weeks as there will likely be changes to the team.
If Conteras is seriously linked in trade talks, it will signal a lot about where the team is headed, and it will be frustrating for the dedicated fanbase.