The Cubs are putting their fans through the ringer this week.
After deciding not to tender a contract to Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs are shopping a number of their home-grown stars in a decisive move away from their 2016 World Series-winning core by new general manager Jed Hoyer.
Next to go is likely Kris Bryant, who has just a year left on his contract and has been shopped around for the second straight offseason. While they tendered him a contract this week, it was merely so they could control his immediate future, and get some sort of return for him. Along with Bryant, the Cubs are reportedly willing to let go of catcher Willson Contreras.
Losing Contreras doesn’t make much sense unless the Cubs have a replacement in mind
There are a number of catchers on the free agent market this offseason, including JT Realmuto and James McCann. It’s unlikely the Ricketts’ family is going to approve a spending spree for either of those catching talents, considering they’re trying so hard to avoid paying their own star players.
Contreras, meanwhile, could fetch a nice return on the open market. He’s under team control through the 2022 season, and will enter arbitration next year. His salary for next year is just over $6 million, which isn’t a bad number for a player of his caliber.
Contreras hit just .243 in the shortened 2020 season, which is a down year by his standards. This was a common theme for the Cubs as a whole, though, as Bryant and even Javier Baez struggled mightily in 2020. Prior to last season, Contreras made two straight All-Star teams and established himself as one of the best backstops in all of baseball. He had his best offensive season in 2019, in which he hit .272 with 24 home runs and 64 RBIs.
Unless the Cubs receive a prospect-laden offer they can’t refuse, parting ways with Contreras isn’t a wise decision.