Cubs: Willson Contreras does, says the right things – but it won’t save him

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After watching his longtime teammates Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez shown the door last summer, the writing was on the wall for Willson Contreras. But the likelihood of the Cubs catcher getting traded at some point in the next four months seems higher than ever now – and he’s come to peace with that fact.

Chicago and their two-time All-Star failed to reach a deal in arbitration talks, with the team offering $9 million and Contreras coming in at $10.25 million – meaning a hearing will determine his 2022 salary. It’s highly unlikely a team would want to trade for him until that is resolved, meaning we could be set up for another heartbreaking midseason trade.

"“Like I’ve said, I’m not focused on getting an extension,” Contreras told “I’m not focused on the arbitration case. I’m focused on winning [with the Cubs]. I’m focused on competing on the field with my teammates. I’m focused on being the best that I can be for them.”"

He’s repeatedly said no talks are ongoing between himself and the organization – and even sat down with Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya this week to encourage him to attack his recovery from Tommy John in preparation of being the team’s long-term answer behind the dish, as well as Contreras’ successor. 

The Yankees and Padres have recently checked in as to the availability of Contreras, but nothing has really picked up steam. An in-season trade seems like the most probable course of action at this point, which puts Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins in the unenviable position of trying to maximize return for a backstop mid-season, something that’s been difficult to do historically.

Willson Contreras drawing rave reviews from everyone at Cubs camp

Meanwhile, as the team gets ready for Opening Day, all signs point to Contreras being exactly the type of player and presence a rebuilding team like the Cubs are looking for, making this lack of extension even more maddening from the outside looking in.

"“He seems eager to lead, to set an example,” Cubs skipper David Ross said. “He understands he’s going to make a lot of money either way, I think, when the details get worked out. His job is just to go play. He can’t control any of those extra factors.”"

New Cubs hurler Marcus Stroman went so far as to say Contreras ‘is this organization’ while pouring praise onto his battery mate for his leadership skills. So, naturally, this is the guy Chicago is poised to show the door.

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Throw in the fact the organization faces a dire lack of depth at the position and this might be the one that really sends folks over the edge. The farm system is replenished and the future is brighter than it was 12 months ago – but you need veteran leaders at the tiller and instead of giving Contreras that role, the Cubs seem ready to push him off the boat altogether.