Cubs need to listen to David Ross when it comes to Willson Contreras
By Cary Heinz
Willson? It’s not an exclamation, it’s question. This is not Tom Hanks yelling to his volleyball companion as it floated away. Unless the Bulls swing a trade for Kevin Durant, this is the biggest question facing Chicago sports fans this summer: what will the Cubs do with Willson Contreras?
Contreras is, hands down, one of the best catchers in the game. He’s in Los Angeles this week representing the Cubs as an All-Star for the third time and is on pace to have his best season offensively. The addition of the designated hitter (rest) and Yan Gomes (a very capable backup) have paid dividends for the Venezuelan superstar.
Baseball trades are more complicated than the average fans realize, because there is so much at stake. Ones including All-Star caliber players, what’s at stake is even higher. This is not my swapping Strat-o-matic cards with buddies a few decades ago. One enormous consideration you have to ask is, as always, what are you going to get in return? In last summer’s sell-off, as far as prospects go, I think Jed Hoyer did quite well.
I have to assume the following conversation will, or has taken place between Hoyer, Carter Hawkins and David Ross. Yes, Ross. Why?
Cubs need to lean on David Ross when evaluating Willson Contreras
Who is better than the Cubs manager at evaluating a catcher? The man spent 15 seasons in the major leagues as well as 10 in the minors with a bit of overlap. He never played more than 100 games in a season, so he spent a lot of time on the bench watching and studying the game. The executives have to, at the very least, get Ross’ thoughts on the matter before making a decision.
Ross and Contreras are a complete contrast, despite sharing a position in their respective careers. Ross is old school, Contreras new school. Ross is built like a prototypical catcher. Had he chosen football over baseball, he is built like a fullback. Contreras is an athlete. You don’t think of a catcher as a ‘five-tool’ player (and his lifetime batting average is .261). but Contreras has a lot of skills.
He’s got three stolen bases this year alone – Rossy swiped a grand total of five during his entire 15-year career. Of course, Ross has an edge when it comes to the dance floor given he finished runner-up in Dancing With the Stars a while back. What’s even more amazing is that I actually watched those episodes with my wife.
That has little to do with whether or not the Cubs should extend Contreras, but what it all boils down to is this: there are a lot of intangibles in baseball. Already adding more and more young arms to the big league staff, do you want to hand things over to Gomes and PJ Higgins down the stretch? In the clubhouse, what would a subtraction of Contreras mean to a team that entered the All-Star Break with the same record as the Reds, who started 3-22?
It’s an unenviable position the front office finds itself in. As a fan, I really can’t say what they should do. Jed and Carter, ask Rossy. It’s his team and position – and our future.