The balanced asset – Willson Contreras
Bringing energy and athleticism to the catcher position, Willson Contreras represents the brightest hope the Cubs’ have seen behind the dish in years.
Ranking as above-average in pitch-framing, blocking and throwing, he’s the best defensive option Chicago features heading into the 2017 campaign. He ranked seventh amongst all Chicago Cubs players last season in terms of WAR (2.2) – the only name on this list to finish in the green.
In 76 games with the Cubs last season, Contreras batted a respectable .282/.357/.488. His 12 home runs ranked seventh on the team, as well, despite playing less than half a season with Chicago. He also caught 37 percent of those who tried to run on him, by far the best mark on the team.
Despite taking a longer road to Chicago, Contreras is still just heading into his age-25 season. PECOTA projects him to take a big step backwards in his defensive works, which is understandable given it will be his first full season at the Major League level. But the upside he presents with both his arm and bat make him a valuable asset nonetheless.
The future behind the plate is not Miguel Montero. Unfortunately, because of the nature of his knee injury, Kyle Schwarber likely isn’t the answer now, either. It’s time to accept that fact, regardless of how much fans don’t like the idea.
Willson Contreras has proven himself to be an asset both behind and at the plate. He has much to learn, but that comes with time and repetitions. There will be ebbs and flows during this transition, to be sure. Simply put, his upside is too great.
He’ll split time with Montero in 2017, but the future is clear: he is the long-term answer for the Chicago Cubs.