Given the ferocity at which the free agent starting pitching market has moved, the Chicago Cubs are looking more and more likely to be left standing around with a clueless look on their faces a la John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction when he goes to pick up Mia for dinner.
Which is just freakin’ peachy.
With Corey Kluber and Michael Wacha coming off the board this weekend, the list of starting pitchers who have already signed include the following:
- Eduardo Rodriguez
- Justin Verlander
- Anthony DeSclafani
- Noah Syndergaard
- Steven Matz
- Andrew Heaney
- Alex Wood (reportedly returning to the Giants)
- Corey Kluber
- Michael Wacha
That’s not to say there aren’t still quality arms out there, because there are. But the number of those we’ve seen Chicago connected to is minuscule at this point. And with each additional name that signs, the competition will grow fiercer and fiercer for who’s left. Let’s not forget – the Cubs have to sell players on the future because this team is not built to win in 2022.
So what does all this have to do with an article supporting a trade of Willson Contreras? The catching market is remarkably thin this winter – and if the Cubs don’t pull off the moves needed to shore up their starting rotation, there’s little value in holding onto your All-Star catcher out of some weird sense of pride.
Chicago Cubs can’t let Willson Contreras play 2022 as a lame duck player
If Chicago can lock him up long-term, great. But if you know you’re going to head into the season with Contreras playing as a lame duck, then don’t wait until July to trade him. Heavily shop him this winter and corner a market that’s devoid of alternatives anywhere near the caliber of Contreras.
This year, the Venezuelan native was once again solid with the bat – although he wasn’t at his best. He finished the year at .237/.340/.438, which works out to a 109 wRC+. Over the weekend, we touched on an MLB.com proposal that proposed Chicago sending Contreras to Miami for Jesus Luzardo, so we’re definitely not alone thinking a trade is in the realm of possibility here.
Losing Contreras would be the final nail in the coffin – leaving just Kyle Hendricks and Jason Heyward as the lone holdovers from 2016. The team’s situation behind the plate in 2022 would be absolutely horrendous and we could safely expect a merry-go-round of backstops attempting to stem the bleeding for 162 games.
But if the team isn’t going to seriously compete in 2022 and are instead focused on 2023, they could go out and land a catcher in next winter’s free agent class, which features a ton of depth at the position. In the short-term, trade Contreras, add a young, impact talent in return, and keep building up for the next run.