As we approach the winter meetings, Willson Contreras has been rumored to be traded by the Chicago Cubs. While I and many other Cubs fans think this is a bad idea, the Cubs do have some promising pieces to fill Willy’s void.
Everyone knows Theo Epstein is a long time Cubbies Crib reader and because of that, I would like to say this. Please don’t do it, Theo. Chicago loves this guy. He has one of the best arms in baseball and was one of the best hitting catchers in 2019. There’s a ton he brings to the table.
I cannot be more clear. I want Contreras back for 2020 and beyond. I think he is a fantastic catcher that will benefit from David Ross as his manager.
The two-time All-Star does have some weak points in his game. Behind the plate, he isn’t the best with his glovework in terms of framing pitches. He has a bad habit of dropping his glove out of the strike zone when receiving the baseball. While many baseball fans may not think about things like this, they can have a significant impact on an at-bat or a game.
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The great thing about Ross being Contreras’ new manager is that he can help develop these receiving and framing skills. Ross has talked on the ESPN baseball broadcast that the receiving and framing skills are the same skills that kept him in the game of baseball for as long as it did.
If some of the Ross framing magic could rub off onto Contreras, the Cubs could have one of the best well-rounded catchers in the league. Contreras has a career slash line of .267/.350/.470 with an .821 OPS, so we know what he can do with the stick.
If the Cubs do split from Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini will likely become the everyday catcher. Caratini has been successful in his role with the Chicago Cubs. He is solid as a defender and his arm isn’t anything special. At the plate, his power numbers are low but hits for a career .257 batting average. His career slash line is .257/.326/.382 with a .809 OPS.
Transitioning from Contreras to Caratini would be hurting the Cubs’ offensive production – there’s no doubt about it. Caratini likely wouldn’t find himself as the Cubs starting catcher for too many seasons, as one of the Cubs highest prospects is a catcher.
Miguel Amaya, a 20-year-old catcher from Panama is likely the future of catching in Chicago if Contreras is traded. Amaya is known to be the opposite of Contreras in terms of skillsets. Amaya is praised for his receiving and framing of the baseball while his bat has not been impressive.
Amaya is seen as a great leader and clubhouse presence who cares about his teammates and winning according to MILB.com. He has taught himself English to communicate better with all pitchers he may meet on the mound and the Cubs see this as a promising prospect that someday will be an everyday MLB catcher.
Willson Contreras was amongst the best catchers in baseball in 2019 and shows great promise for the future due to his athleticism, passion for the game, and experience surrounding him in David Ross. Trading Willson Contreras would be foolish in my opinion, but if the asking price is right, Caratini and Amaya will be tasked with fulfilling Willy’s shoes.