Chicago Cubs: Trading from a position of strength might be the answer
While Russell and Almora both have their own fans – a decision to move on from either of those players would pale in comparison to what would happen if the Chicago Cubs traded Willson Contreras this offseason.
Contreras, coming off his second consecutive All-Star appearance, is one of the most promising catchers in all of baseball and easily ranks as the best offensive threat behind the dish. In 409 plate appearances, the Venezuelan native crushed to the tune of a 127 wRC+, scoring a career-high 57 runs and smacking a personal best 24 home runs.
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Defensively, there’s still work to be done – and everyone knows that. But he’s got an absolute cannon he can fire off at any given moment and he showed some promising trends near the end of the season, upon returning from a hamstring injury.
All of this means he certainly wasn’t part of the problem for the Cubs in 2019. That being said, he may very well prove to be part of the solution – as a trade chip. Teams would undoubtedly clamor for the chance to add a 27-year-old stud backstop to the mix. Chicago would be right to entertain offers from said clubs, as well – especially given several circumstances surrounding the situation.
Victor Caratini turned in a breakout 2019 season and demonstrated he’s more than capable of handling the bulk of the catching heading into next year. Paired with the fact the Cubs have several notable catching prospects who profile as long-term fits (Miguel Amaya, Jhonny Pereda, etc.), moving on from Contreras becomes at least slightly more palatable.
If the Cubs could address the pitching staff, second base or center field (or some combination of these areas of concern), as much as it might hurt, trading Willson Contreras might represent the team’s best chance of keeping most of the core intact while re-tooling with an eye on returning to the postseason in 2020.