Three or so weeks after his long-dreaded departure failed to take place, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras is, once again, making his feelings clear when it comes to his future: he wants to call the North Side home for years to come.
"“This team, I think we have something special in here, to be honest,” Contreras told The Athletic (subscription required). “Every player that comes in, they’re willing to listen. They want to win. That’s why I want to play through my injury. It’s not like there’s nothing that I want to be part of. I want to be part of what’s going on here because in the second half we’ve been playing really good baseball.”"
Chicago has been surprisingly competitive since the All-Star Break, going 18-12 following Tuesday afternoon’s 2-0 win over St. Louis. They’ve been causing problems for teams with postseason aspirations, namely Milwaukee, which narrowly avoided a weekend sweep at the hands of the Cubs last weekend at Wrigley.
Young guys are really taking a step forward this year. Justin Steele has emerged as one of the best starters not just on the team, but all of baseball, in the second half. Nico Hoerner has a chance to put up a .300 average and potentially win his first Gold Glove. Guys like Christopher Morel and Keegan Thompson have proven themselves worthy of a roster spot heading into 2023 – and the front office has a war chest capable of going toe-to-toe with virtually any team in the league.
Oh, and let’s not forget the Cubs’ farm system has climbed all the way to 10th in MLB Pipeline’s latest re-rankings, a testament to the job Jed Hoyer has done since taking over for Theo Epstein following the 2020 campaign.
Cubs are poised for a monster offseason heading into the 2023 campaign
The stars are aligning for this to be a massive offseason for the organization. And there’s no reason Contreras shouldn’t be a part of it. The three-time All-Star has proven that his July woes (.149/.259/.230) clearly stemmed from the uncertainty surrounding him, following it up with an .884 OPS in August entering action Tuesday.
He’s not going to win any defensive hardware behind the plate, but he’s done enough to make himself passable back there – and, when paired with his bat, it’s very clear just how valuable he can be. On the year, he’s amassed 3.5 bWAR / 3.1 fWAR – and his passion and leadership are among the best in baseball.
We know the money’s there. We know Contreras wants to be the bridge from that 2016 World Series championship to that anticipated ‘next great Cubs team’. Now we have to wait and see if Hoyer will make that a reality once the season ends and the fan favorite hits free agency for the first time in his career.