Astros manager Dusty Baker and owner Jim Crane threw the brakes on a trade deadline move that would have brought right-hander Jose Urquidy to the Cubs in exchange for Willson Contreras. But, apparently, that hasn't cooled Houston's interest in the three-time All-Star.
According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), the Astros are already engaged in talks with Contreras with plans to meet with him during the Winter Meetings this weekend in San Diego. The intrigue with Contreras, specifically, is they can utilize him behind the dish and in left field, something he did early on in his Cubs career.
Cubs Rumors: Willson Contreras connections to Houston keep coming
We're just days removed from watching one of Chicago's top free agent targets, Jose Abreu, ink a three-year, $60 million deal with the Astros. Going to three years is clearly what got that deal done (plus the opportunity to contend for a title annually) given the Cubs had a two-year offer out there with a similar AAV and both Cleveland and San Diego also making three-year offers.
Contreras has long been regarded as one of the premier offensive backstops in the game, but questions have lingered when it comes to his work behind the dish. The Cubs are electing to go in a very different direction at the catcher position, prioritizing defense and game-calling, all but guaranteeing Contreras plays elsewhere in 2023.
The Astros are unquestionably the toast of the American League - and not just because they won it all again this year. They've played in four of the last six Fall Classics, winning a pair of them, and in those other two seasons they didn't reach the World Series, Houston still advanced to the ALCS.
Adding Abreu and Contreras early on in the offseason would send a resounding message to the rest of the league that Houston isn't resting on its laurels. Should this come to fruition, Cubs fans can circle mid-May on their calendars, when David Ross and the boys will head to Minute Maid Park to take on the Astros as part of the new balanced schedule format.