Chicago Cubs: Jed Hoyer should listen on Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras
By Erik Mauro
Yes, the Chicago Cubs are in action again Wednesday, but the only story on anyone’s mind is the upcoming trade deadline and the endless stream of Cubs rumors. The obvious decisions are there in the form of Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel, but to really maximize the return at the deadline, Jed Hoyer should listen to calls on some controllable assets, too.
Catcher Willson Contreras is under contract through next season, and Kyle Hendricks through 2023. It’s very easy to see a path where the Cubs aren’t competitive in either of those two seasons but are competitive by 2024. Hendricks will be 34 by the time his contract is up, and Contreras 30. The Cubs have an abundance of catching prospects in the minor leagues, and the pitching is getting better as well.
It all comes down to whether Chicago wants to have two aging players as part of their next competitive team. Hendricks has proven himself and I’m sure the team would love to have him around, but it’s about performance, and frankly, if the deal is too good to pass up the Cubs should do it.
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It all goes back to Hoyer saying this will not be a quick rebuild, and he needs to show that. Obviously, Hendricks and Contreras are likely to stay with the Cubs, but by no means should they be untouchable.
If Toronto comes to the Cubs for Contreras and they offer, say, a Cavan Biggio, Gabriel Moreno and another prospect? I think that’s something the Cubs should consider, even pull the trigger on. Maybe they revisit the talks with the Marlins and they offer Braxton Garrett and another top 10 prospect – again, something to strongly consider.
When a team is selling and has a bunch of expiring contracts, nobody should be off limits, and the Cubs are in the same situation. There is always a right deal for players, especially teams who are looking to re-tool/rebuild.
Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras has tremendous value
Hendricks has a long track record of success, too. In 193 career starts he has a 3.17 ERA, a 3.65 FIP, with 966 strikeouts in 1,158 1/3 innings, and has given up just 1,048 hits and he limits hard contact, which is a skill not many pitchers have. He has gone 12 straight starts of six or more innings, so he is an innings eater, and that is another valuable skill in today’s game of bullpens and short starts.
Contreras has been one of the best catchers in baseball since coming to the big leagues in 2016, especially offensively. He has only gotten better behind the plate and is on pace for about a 3 WAR season. That is an upgrade over many teams’ catching situations.
The bottom line is that the Cubs should be exploring all avenues, not just the obvious expiring contracts. If it’s truly not a rebuild as Hoyer says, it’s time to prove it. Granted, the rebuild can still be quicker without a trade of Hendricks or Contreras, but they should by no means be off limits.