Chicago Cubs: Willson Contreras talks about offseason trade rumors
After reporting to camp in Mesa early, Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras offered his thoughts on hearing his name in trade rumors in recent months.
Besides Kris Bryant, one Chicago Cubs standout has seen his name come up in trade rumors this offseason more than any other teammate: Willson Contreras. The two-time All-Star reported to Sloan Park on Monday and spoke with reporters about that experience, as well as being back at camp with Chicago.
"“This past winter, the trade rumors were more consistent than the year before, and I was aware of it. I was trying to not pay attention to it, but it was impossible,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Every time I was on social media, a new article was coming out about me being traded. Now that I’m here, I feel blessed once again. I’m happy to be here. I love this organization and my teammates. I’m really excited to have another great 2020 season with all my team.”"
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Contreras is coming off another strong year with the Cubs in which he put up a career-best .888 OPS in 105 games. Injuries have derailed his success in each of the previous two campaigns, so staying healthy during the grind of an entire season will likely be a focus for the Venezuelan native in 2020.
He’s cemented atop the depth chart at his respective position, with Victor Caratini likely slotting in behind him as the team’s primary backup. We heard yesterday that Contreras will be working more with Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish this spring, which will hopefully allow the two to be more effective together this season.
Last year, Darvish was notably stronger with Caratini behind the plate, as evidenced by the splits below:
- Darvish/Contreras: 39 IP / 6.00 ERA / 1.76 K/BB ratio
- Darvish/Caratini: 120 1/3 IP / 3.29 ERA / 9.69 K/BB ratio
If Contreras and Darvish can get on the same page before the regular season, that allows first-year manager David Ross to get his offensive-minded backstop in the lineup more often. That being said, if Caratini catches Darvish, it builds in an off-day for Contreras every four days, which is hardly a bad thing given his past injury issues.
While we saw Bryant tied to multiple specific teams in rumors, Contreras was shopped more broadly – and the Cubs didn’t like the value potential trade partners placed on him. As a player, of course you’re going to pay attention to rumors – but, at least for now, Contreras is focused on the task at hand: helping Chicago get back to the postseason.
"“Now that [I’m] here, I feel more secure to my team. I feel like now I’m going to be starting the season with my team, even though if I get traded — who knows? But I don’t have my mind into trade rumors. I have my mind into my pitchers, into my team, and I want to make them better.”"
If the Cubs hold onto Contreras, he’ll undoubtedly play a critical role on this club. He’s continued to work on shoring up some of the deficiencies in his defensive game and if he can continue to make improvements here and put up the numbers with the bat, he may very well both increase his trade value while giving Chicago a boost behind the dish.