The mass purge that was the 2021 Chicago Cubs season saw fan favorites Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javy Baez all shipped off at the trade deadline, and 2022 may be no different. According to 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine, both the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres have checked on catcher Willson Contreras’ availability in recent weeks.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) March 21, 2022
The 29-year old catcher has continued to rank among MLB’s best in batting, while consistently improving his defense and pitch framing, an issue that has dogged him by his critics over the course of his career. In 2021, Contreras batted .237 with 21 home runs and 57 RBIs in 128 games. His total games played was the second most of his career behind the 138 games he appeared in during the 2018 season.
Despite his performances in Chicago, the two-time NL All-Star said there have been no extension discussions with the Cubs, despite getting ready to hit free agency following the 2022 season. Contreras discussed how difficult it would be to leave the Cubs whether it come via trade or after the season in an interview over the weekend.
“This is something that is really tough for me. Personally, the relationships I have with the team, players and fans, leaving this will be something that will be really tough to take. This is something very emotional for me, knowing all that I have had to go through to get to this point. It’s going to be really tough and very emotional.”
As for the teams who have inquired about the catcher, the Yankees recently shipped their 2021 starting catcher Gary Sanchez to Minnesota in a blockbuster deal, leaving the team with Rob Brantly, Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt on their depth chart who have a combined 416 career plate appearances. As for the Padres, a familiar face in former Cub Victor Caratini leads the position in Major League experience with Austin Nola, Webster Rivas and top prospect Luis Campusano also in consideration for playing time.
While we may not know when the clock will strike midnight on Contreras’ time as a Cub, it seems inevitable that 2022 will be the final season on the North Side for the beloved catcher. Enjoy his play while he’s here, Cubs fans.
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