We knew this was a possibility. Even back in July, we explored the possibility of the Cardinals acquiring Willson Contreras. Of course, that never came to fruition and the three-time All-Star closed out the year with the Cubs before hitting the open market at season's end.
Cubs poised to watch Willson Contreras join the Cardinals
Chicago made Contreras a qualifying offer, but he declined - taking his place as the top free agent catcher available. Since the offseason began, two teams seemed like front-runners for his services and, much to the dismay of Cubs fans who have come to love Contreras over the years, the St. Louis Cardinals look like they're close to sealing the deal.
As much as it pains me, it's a perfect fit. The Cardinals are, for the first time in two decades, looking to an era that doesn't include Yadier Molina entrenched behind the plate. The future Hall of Famer retired at the end of the 2022 season, leaving St. Louis in need of a proven commodity behind the dish. Given Molina's legacy with the organization (and in the game, as a whole), it's not hard to understand why the idea of succeeding Molina would appeal to him.
Of course, there are some major distinctions between the two catchers. Molina has long been considered one of the premier receivers in the game and there are longstanding concerns with Contreras' defensive work. Still, he brings a lot with the bat - and will add another potent offensive weapon to a lineup that features 2022 NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and third-place finisher Nolan Arenado.
Contreras in St. Louis will certainly add another layer to a Cubs-Cardinals rivalry that could regain some heat in 2023, with Chicago seemingly on the rise and St. Louis looking like an early favorite in the NL Central race. So, in short, pain. It'll hurt to see this fan favorite on the other side of things - and I'm sure he'll hit .400 against us, which will be super fun.