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Cubs Trade Rumors: Teams Worry How Willson Contreras Would Mesh with New Pitchers

Adam WellsJuly 26, 2022

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The likelihood of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras being moved before the Aug. 2 deadline remains high, but the three-time All-Star may have to play a different position for a new club.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, "multiple teams" are concerned about Contreras' ability to mesh with a new pitching staff down the stretch this season if he gets traded.

Since making his big league debut in 2016, Contreras has been one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. He ranks fourth at the position in FanGraphs WAR during that span (minimum 2,000 plate appearances).

Contreras ranks third in on-base percentage (.352) and slugging percentage (.460) among catchers over the past seven seasons. He is one of five catchers with at least 100 homers since the start of 2016.

Defense behind the plate has been another story for Contreras. Passan noted the 30-year-old is "not known for his game-calling acumen" as a catcher. He ranks 41st out of 60 qualified catchers in called-strike rate (45.8 percent), per Baseball Savant.

The Cubs have acknowledged Contreras' defensive limitations based on the near equal split of starts he has made at catcher (22) and designated hitter (18) in 40 games since June 1.

According to Passan, the New York Mets and Houston Astros are among the playoff contenders to call the Cubs about Contreras.

The Mets are tied for fifth among all teams in FanGraphs defensive value from the catching position this season (12.7). The Astros rank 22nd in that category (3.5).

The primary appeal of Contreras as a trade option for postseason contenders is his bat. Offense is down across MLB this season, with catchers particularly struggling to make an impact. Only 10 teams have a collective on-base percentage over .300 from their backstops in 2022.

Contreras won't cost much in terms of salary for interested teams. He is only making $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency at the end of the year.

The Cubs (39-57) have every reason to move Contreras prior to the Aug. 2 trade deadline and get back whatever package of prospects they can get to build for the future.

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