Cubs: Willson Contreras ‘proud’ of being mentioned in trade rumors

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

While this offseason brought some change to the Chicago Cubs, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as it could have been given the incessant trade rumors surrounding pretty much every member of the core.

Third baseman Kris Bryant got most of the attention, given he’s a former NL MVP heading into his final year of control. Throw in the fact the Cubs were clearly in cost-cutting mode and that Bryant will earn nearly $20 million in 2021 and it’s easy to see why he garnered the most headlines. But several of his teammates, including catcher Willson Contreras, saw their names floated, as well.

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Bryant has spoken about his own experience hearing his name in rumors – at one point even receiving a text welcoming him to the Mets – and, now, Contreras has weighed in as well, albeit in a very different manner.

Stressful? Overwhelming? Hardly. The two-time All-Star said he was ‘proud’ to see his name connected to other teams and mentioned online this winter.

"“Those rumors make me proud because with everything that I’ve done to be where I’m at, it makes me proud,” Contreras told the Chicago Tribune this weekend. “I was going to go through it relaxed because if I got traded, I know that I’m ready to play anywhere in the world.”"

That’s a very different tone than we heard from Contreras’ teammates Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, who have been very upfront about their desire to stay in Chicago. Contreras is just telling it like it is. Whether or not he gets traded is out of his control, so there’s little point in worrying about it.

Cubs: Willson Contreras is the team’s most valuable trade chip

Last year, the Chicago backstop showed a noted improvement defensively – stepping up his pitch framing in a big way. With the stick, he was above-average once again, although not quite as dominant as he’s been traditionally. He was hardly the only Cubs player to battle through things at the plate, though, and there’s no reason to think he won’t bounce back in 2021.

Unlike Bryant, Baez and Rizzo, Contreras won’t hit free agency until after the 2022 campaign. We know Chicago isn’t going to give all four of these guys extensions – and given the team’s eye toward the future, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Contreras traded before that time comes.

He’s one of the best catchers in the game today and would bring a substantial return in a trade. Given the organizational depth at that position, namely in top prospect Miguel Amaya, the front office might not be as hesitant when fielding offers for Contreras.

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Still, if Jed Hoyer wants to lock up the 28-year-old catcher, Contreras says he’s all ears.

"“If they want to come to me and want to talk about it, I’m open to it,” Contreras said."