A Cubs fan’s worst nightmare? Willson Contreras joining the Cardinals

(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /

There’s less than three weeks until the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline – and all signs point to Willson Contreras’ Chicago Cubs tenure drawing to a close before then. For some time, it’s felt like a matter of when, not if, Jed Hoyer sends the three-time All-Star packing as the organization continues its relentless turnover of talent.

The question on everyone’s mind now is pretty straightforward: where will Contreras end up? There are a handful of teams that you can make the case for, including the Mets, who have gotten nothing but injuries from James McCann, the Astros, whose catching tandem offers little offensively, the Padres, and others.

But one team I’d not seriously considered resides in the Cubs’ very own division in the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

Such a trade coming to fruition would no doubt constitute a Cubs fan’s worst nightmare, but according to Andy McCullough of The Athletic (subscription required), with Yadier Molina out until at least early August, you can bet the Cardinals’ front office is at least considering adding behind the plate.

"“Where we are at a catching standpoint, if we could find something from an offensive standpoint, that would be helpful as well,” St. Louis president of baseball operations Jon Mozeliak said recently."

Even if Molina does return, as he and the team are hoping, it’s hard to place all your eggs in that basket at this point, regardless of what he’s done during his 19-year Cardinals career. It’s not like he was setting the world on fire prior to hitting the IL, turning in a .519 OPS. He’s been his typical standout self defensively, posting well-above average marks in framing and caught stealing percentage, but there’s clearly room to add some pop at the position.

Cubs: Is Willson Contreras the answer behind the plate for the Cardinals?

St. Louis has Ivan Herrera, their third-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, waiting in the wings, but his limited taste of big league action hasn’t gone well. Pairing Contreras with Molina to close out 2022 could give the Cardinals a leg up in the two-horse division race with Milwaukee, which holds a two-game lead over the Redbirds entering action Wednesday.

If you think Cubs fans were fired up over losing Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant last summer, just wait – trading Contreras, someone the fanbase almost universally would like to see extended, to Chicago’s most hated rival? Suffice to say, it wouldn’t sit well with already the already frustrated Wrigleyville faithful.

It’s a long-shot, at best, in my opinion. But after the Cubs fleeced the Mets in the Baez trade last summer, New York might be wary of dipping their toes back in that water. Houston pitchers love the game-calling Martin Maldonado possesses and there just isn’t that slam-dunk trade partner for Contreras as things currently stand.

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One thing’s for sure. Hoyer isn’t going to let the fact the two teams haven’t hooked up on a deal in 15 years slow him down. Should Mozeliak come in with the offer that trips his trigger, the Cubs’ front office head will waste no time in putting Contreras on the other side of the rivalry.