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Willson Contreras Rumors: Astros 'in Discussions' with Cubs FA Catcher

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2022

CINCINNATI, OHIO - OCTOBER 03: Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs looks on from the dugout in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on October 03, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Houston Astros will be looking to defend their World Series crown during the 2023 campaign, and they may have one of the best catchers in the league as they do so.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Tuesday that the American League West team is "in discussions with free agent Willson Contreras and plan to meet with him at the winter meetings."

Houston's interest in Contreras is not new.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier this month that the Astros and Chicago Cubs agreed to a deal ahead of the trade deadline that would have sent the catcher to Houston in exchange for pitcher José Urquidy.

Yet owner Jim Crane never approved the trade, and manager Dusty Baker also wasn't fond of the idea either.

"Much as I like Willson Contreras, Urquidy was one of our best pitchers then," Baker said. "I needed a guy that wasn't going to complain about not playing every day. And this is his [free agent] year. See, that's tough. When you trade for a player in his [free agent] year. Everybody's about numbers and stuff, and I can't blame them, no doubt. But that's not what we needed."

However, bringing him in as a free agent wouldn't mean giving up Urquidy in the middle of a pennant race. Rosenthal also noted the Astros like his versatility since he can play left field and designated hitter if they don't have him at catcher.

The 30-year-old has three All-Star selections and helped the Cubs win the 2016 World Series.

While there are better defensive catchers around the league, his bat is among the most prominent for the position. He launched 22 home runs last season, marking his fourth year with more than 20 long balls in his career.

Contreras is also accustomed to playing under the pressure that a playoff chase brings considering he was an integral part of Chicago's World Series title and follow-up run to the National League Championship Series and would bolster an already impressive Astros lineup.

It won't happen via trade like it almost did during the 2022 season, but Contreras could end up in Houston anyway as a free-agent signing.