With next to no long-term payroll obligations moving forward, the Chicago Cubs are in a prime position to take bad contracts off the hands of teams looking to get under the luxury tax threshold.
Why would they do this? Because such moves almost always include top prospects coming over with said bad contract, as would be the case if the Cubs re-visit talks with the San Diego Padres regarding first baseman Eric Hosmer.
The two teams discussed potential frameworks for a deal ahead of the July trade deadline but, obviously, were unable to hammer anything out. We’d heard the name of outfield prospect Robert Hassell tossed around casually as potentially being the main piece coming back in such a deal, but according to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, Jed Hoyer had his eye on a different talent in the Padres’ system: Luis Campusano.
The Padres now have a catching surplus and, as before, needs elsewhere in the lineup. They also have shown a willingness to discuss Campusano in trade talks. That was the case last summer when San Diego pursued Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Campusano’s name also was raised in a potential deal that would have sent Hosmer and a portion of his contract to the Cubs.
Campusano, 23, is ranked #37 on MLB.com’s list of top 100 prospects and is one of the most highly-regarded backstop talents in the game today. There was once a time where it looked like Chicago had an embarrassment of riches behind the dish – but that’s definitely no longer the case.
Nobody knows what the future holds for Willson Contreras. To this point, there have been zero talks with the two-time All-Star catcher in regards to a long-term extension and we know how he felt about the team going out and inking Yan Gomes to a two-year deal with an option for 2024.
So, assuming Contreras is traded either before spring training or ahead of the deadline, that means Gomes is now the top man on the depth chart. Behind him, it’s a mix of less-than-exciting names, including recently re-signed PJ Higgins. In short, the team needs some reinforcements behind the plate and there isn’t a whole lot left in terms of free agents, either.
Right now, the Chicago Cubs lack long-term certainty behind the plate
Of course, at one point, Miguel Amaya was viewed as the clear heir apparent to Contreras, but his future is murkier than ever after things have totally gone off the rails with the former top prospect. The 2020 MiLB season was canceled due to COVID, Amaya missed all but 23 games due to injuries and recently underwent Tommy John surgery – which will cost him the 2022 campaign.
That means he’ll head into 2023 basically four years removed from a full season’s work. Obviously, he’s always showcased a strong skillset – but nobody knows what he’ll look like coming back from surgery and with a multi-year layoff. The Cubs won’t write him off, but it would be irresponsible to still view him as your long-term answer.
All of this to say it makes perfect sense that, in a hypothetical Eric Hosmer trade, Hoyer asked about Campusano. He’s a plus offensive player and is playing for an organization that’s incredibly deep at the position – making him more expendable in the grand scheme of things.