Former Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras is a free agent, but could sign with a familiar foe he was almost traded to at the deadline — the Houston Astros.
The fit is perfect — the Astros need a catcher who can hit, at least somewhat. While Martin Maldonado is respected in the Houston clubhouse, he flirts with the Mendoza line on a regular basis from the plate.
A winning scenario here for the Astros is simple. They can sign one of the best hitting catchers in baseball in Willson Contreras, all while continuing to let Maldonado work with their pitching staff.
This isn’t the first time Houston has flirted with Contreras, however. Jim Crane nixed a deal that would’ve sent Contreras to the Astros at the trade deadline. This time around, he won’t have to give up the likes of Jose Urquidy.
Astros signing Willson Contreras is slap in the face to Cubs
This is all per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required), who reported in his daily notes column that Houston was making progress on a contract for Contreras.
The idea in this case is that Contreras would DH most of the time, allowing Maldonado to work with the pitching staff, which he’s earned the right to do.
The Cubs had a chance to trade Willson Contreras at the deadline, but opted against it, as they were surprised by his market value. Instead, they will take the draft pick that comes with losing him in free agency. Jed Hoyer and Co. deemed that to be of more importance than prospect capital.
At his best, Contreras is an All-Star level catcher at the plate. Defensively, clubs have flirted with moving him to first base, or designated hitter full time. That would impact Contreras monetary value, of course, as catcher is a premium position.