Cubs Trade Rumors: Willson Contreras Drawing Interest from Astros

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2019

Chicago Cubs' Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras in a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Friday, June 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

The Houston Astros have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, according to Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic on Thursday.

Mooney and Sharma added that the Cubs may make Contreras available to teams that missed out on Yasmani Grandal in free agency. Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox in November.

The 27-year-old Contreras is a four-year MLB veteran, and he has already been named an All-Star twice and won a World Series during his young career.

Contreras is under team control until 2023, but with the Cubs going just 84-78 last season and clearly needing a roster shake-up, he could be on the move.

Last season, Contreras slashed .272/.355/.533 with a career-high 24 home runs to go along with 64 RBI. He has been named an All-Star in each of the past two seasons, but his best campaign arguably came three seasons ago, when he hit .276 with 21 homers and 74 RBI.

Contreras' numbers left something to be desired in 2018, as he hit .249 with 10 home runs in 54 RBI, but he managed to rebuild his value last season despite appearing in just 105 games and posting 360 at-bats, which were the second-lowest totals of his career.

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If the Astros have one weakness offensively, it is at catcher. Robinson Chirinos, Max Stassi and Martin Maldonado all saw action behind the plate last season. Only Chirinos had at least 100 plate appearances, though, and he hit .238 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI.

Since both Chirinos and Maldonado are free agents and Stassi is now with the Los Angeles Angels, Dustin Garneau (338 career at-bats) and Garrett Stubbs (35 career at-bats) are penciled in as Houston's top two catchers.

Houston doesn't necessarily need a great offensive catcher since it boasts a lineup that includes Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez, but Contreras would add even more depth.

If the Cubs do part ways with Contreras, Victor Caratini would be the top candidate to start behind the plate after hitting .266 with 11 homers and 34 RBI last season.

Chicago could also explore the free-agent market, which contains the likes of Chirinos, Jason Castro, Austin Romine, Yan Gomes and Josh Phegley.

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