The already young Chicago Cubs lineup is about to get even younger. On Thursday, the Cubs promote prospect Willson Contreras. The young catcher was an undrafted free agent signing in December of 2009. During his time in the organization, Contreras has worked his way up to AAA Iowa and became the number two prospect for the Cubs.
Cubs Promote Prospect Willson Contreras
Contreras started his professional career in Rookie ball for two years, then played in short A for another two years. After that, he played a year in long A and a year in full A. Last year, he played at AA, and until this point has been in AAA. Contreras has demonstrated an extreme work ethic, showing improvements at each level and grinding to be promoted to the next stop. This work ethic is going to be put to the test, as he’s going to face his toughest challenge yet. The Cubs want Contreras to be their everyday starter at catcher in the coming years. He is going to need to improve his defensive abilities and show that he can be a good hitter, which he’s done at every level.
Over the past couple years, Contreras has been arguably the best player in the Cubs minor league system. In 2015, with AA, Contreras had a .333/.413/.478 slash line. He only hit eight home runs all year, but drove in seventy-five runs. In 2015, he was named to the AA Mid-Season All-Star team and the Cubs Organization All-Star team.
So far in 2016, Contreras is showing even more improvements at a higher level. His AAA slash line is .350/.439/.591. He already has one more home run than he did in 2015, in about half the at-bats. His large increase in slugging percentage shows that he is squaring the ball up much more and driving the ball to the gaps. Contreras will join the team back in Chicago on Friday, as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Cubs DFA Tim Federowicz
With Contreras getting the call, someone must be removed from the roster in some way. There are rumors, coming first from Mark Gonzales on Twitter, that the Cubs are going to DFA catcher Tim Federowicz.
Can confirm Wilson Contreras headed to Chicago, corresponding move involving Federowicz
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) June 16, 2016
This is a pretty smart move, as Federowicz hasn’t gotten much playing time as of late. The Cubs are also currently carrying three catchers, and adding a fourth would be downright ridiculous. The former UNC catcher has just twenty-six at-bats in the 2016 campaign, with just five hits for a mere .192 batting average. Federowicz got called up to replace starting catcher Miguel Montero when he went on the DL. That is pretty much all Federowicz would be if he stayed in Chicago, a replacement-level player.
What Do the Cubs Do Now?
It is still unclear how much Contreras will play, with Miguel Montero as the normal starter and David Ross getting a spot start every few days. However, Contreras could take over the starting role soon, as Montero has really struggled this year. He currently owns a negative WAR. He’s also batting just .210 with only fifteen RBI.
The Cubs may believe Contreras can provide at least the same level of production that they got from Montero, if not more. Contreras, for his part, has a higher ceiling that Montero. They would also giving Contreras the chance he deserves and would be getting some much-needed Major League experience under his belt. The Cubs may also have some behind-the-scenes action going as well that could involve moving more players. Whenever Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer make a small move, there is always the potential for a bigger splash to come later.
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