Look away Cubs fans. According to Jeff Passan, The St. Louis Cardinals are signing catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million contract.
Catcher Willson Contreras and the St. Louis Cardinals are in agreement on a five-year, $87.5 million contract, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 7, 2022
Long-time, legendary Cards’ catcher Yadier Molina retired following last season, so the addition of Contreras will quickly fill the void. Although Molina is one of the greats, his production last season was sub-par. Contreras is coming off his third all-star appearance in 2022 and will serve as Adam Wainwright’s new battery mate. This is definitely a heartbreaking deal for Cubs fans. The outcome of his signing elsewhere was inevitable after he rejected the Cubs’ qualifying offer. It’s one thing to see one of the more likable, home-grown guys sign with another team, let alone their biggest rival in the league.
Wilson Contreras’ Career
The 30-year-old catcher has known nothing but Chicago for his entire career. Contreras was signed by the Cubs’ organization a little more than 13 years ago and spent over six years in the minors. When he was finally called up in 2016 he made an immediate impact. Amazingly enough, the first-ever pitch he saw resulted in his first career home run. He helped the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years. In the 2016 playoffs, he batted .256 with a .710 OPS, which is pretty good for a hitter at the bottom of the lineup. He also had one homerun off Clayton Kershaw that helped propel the Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers in game six of the NLCS.
Over his seven-year career so far, Contreras batted .256 with an .808 OPS. He has never been known as a big power hitter or base clearer, but he is great at getting on base. Not only that, he is an above-average defensive catcher. Fun fact: He has the same career fielding percentage as Mike Piazza, and it is higher than Yogi Berra’s and Carlton Fisk’s.
Contreras was the lone, core Cub left from the 2016 team. It seemed like everyone was leaving one by one, and he stayed while Chicago started to go into rebuild mode again. Although trade rumors circled for a few years, he was still able to perform well. This past season was one of his best. He was in the top six percent of the league in xwOBA (.364), and the 85th percentile in xSLG (.463).
Cardinals fans, I know it hurts to see Yadi go, but the replacement is not too shabby. And for Cubs fans, sorry again, but this was inevitable.
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Willson Contreras, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Piazza, Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk
Sports communications graduate from the University of Rhode Island