Chicago Cubs: One trade to make and one trade to avoid

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Willson Contreras / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: 1 trade to avoid: Willson Contreras

Willson Contreras lands at number one on my list of guys I want to build around. The fiery, ever-passionate Venezuelan spark plug is arguably the best backstop the Cubs have had since Gabby Hartnett in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Across 19 years with the Cubs, Hartnett racked up a 55 WAR. Contreras, in his sixth season with the Cubs, is at 15.5 WAR and is on pace to be around 17.5 after this year is over. Should Contreras stay on that pace for another 13 years, you see how close the numbers in that category become compared to Hartnett. In fact, Contreras is on pace to surpass Hartnett in WAR should he stick around that long and remain healthy.

Contreras also sits at 88 career home runs, on pace to blow past the 231 career home runs Hartnett hit and set as a record with the Chicago Cubs as a catcher over those 19 seasons. Furthermore, with just 40 more home runs, Contreras will move into second all-time as a Cubs backstop, surpassing Jody Davis’ 121 homers, which he could do as soon as next year.

It simply is just not every day you have an All-Star caliber catcher on your team. The Cubs haven’t had one since 2008 with Geovany Soto. Even more remarkable, besides Soto in 2008, Contreras is the only other Cubs catcher in the last 84 years to be named an All-Star since Gabby Hartnett in 1937. He’s done it twice in 2018 and 2019.

As noted, Contreras is on pace for about 17.5 career WAR after this year. Keep in mind the fact he could only play in 57 games in 2020 due to a COVID shortened season. His WAR total last year was 1.1 for what was one-third of a normal length season. Averaging that out for the course of a full year he would have obtained or at least been on pace for 3.3 assuming he was healthy and played as many games as normal.

Not a far stretch considering in 2017 he had 3.9, 2018 he had 3.1 and in 2019 had 3.2. Simply put, though a lot can happen between years six and 19, Contreras is currently on pace to surpass Hartnett in terms of WAR and all-time home runs by a Cubs catcher.

Next. 5 wild trade ideas from the mind of Jim Bowden. dark

I love nothing more than to see a player like Willson fire his team up. The laser-cannon for an arm makes runners never safe at first, second or third base. In 2022, Contreras will enter his third and final year of arbitration and will be set to become a free agent after the season wraps up. Lock him up and throw away the key.