Cubs: Everyone’s raving about Willson Contreras – so where’s his extension?

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Last winter didn’t exactly provide ideal negotiating circumstances for the Cubs and two-time All-Star catcher Willson Contreras. The owner-instituted lockout halted any communication between clubs and players for nearly 100 days and, once lifted, everyone hit the ground running for spring training.

Even prior to the lockout, though, Chicago never approached Contreras with an extension offer, instead sending what many perceived to be a clear message by signing veteran Yan Gomes. Of course, you can just as easily say that move was to benefit Contreras and help keep him fresh this year, but after last summer’s sell-off, I can’t say I really blame folks for their pessimism.

This spring, more of the same, with no talks taking place between the two sides. Contreras said that hitting free agency could be ‘a dream come true’ given the long road to get to where he is today and that was the last we heard on the matter heading into the regular season.

Since the season began, despite the Cubs playing sub-.500 ball, Contreras has only proven just how valuable he can be to the team, putting up some gaudy numbers at the dish while maintaining his fiery desire to compete and win every time he steps on the field.

"“He’s been playing great,” Jed Hoyer told “His offensive game is as strong as I’ve seen him.”"

‘Great’ is a bit of an understatement. Contreras ranks 19th in all of baseball with a 155 wRC+, which leads all catchers. He’s dramatically cut down on his strikeouts, dropping his K rate by nearly a full 10 percent year-over-year, while improving his walk rate and using the whole field better than he ever has in his career.

Cubs manager David Ross echoed Hoyer’s sentiments, saying this is ‘as good as I’ve ever seen him’ – which says a lot given he’s not only managed Contreras, but was one of his veteran mentors early in his big league career.

Cubs still seem likely to trade Willson Contreras, rather than extend him

The Venezuelan native is doing it all, checking every box on a near-nightly basis. But, still, there’s no signs that it’s done anything to raise the odds of the team coming to him with a long-term extension. If anything, it’s made a trade feel even more likely. Contreras’ stock has never been higher than it is right now and it’s worth wondering if the Cubs will look to capitalize and move him sooner rather than later.

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It’s a frustrating position to be in as a fan. Contreras offers a lot to a team like the Cubs. His desire to win hasn’t waned, despite the obvious talent drop-off, and he’s doing everything he can to lead the charge. In the end, though, I fear all it’ll do is allow Hoyer to get a better return in a summer trade instead of earning the backstop a well-deserved extension.