Chicago Cubs, MLB

Cubs replaced departed free agent with better production from minor leaguer

The Cubs have great expectations for catcher Miguel Amaya, who’s already started to mimic Willson Contreras’ production in his first major league season.

It took the Chicago Cubs less than a full season to find someone to replace departed free agent Willson Contreras: Miguel Amaya.

Eight years ago, the 24-year-old talent signed with the Cubs for a $1.25 million bonus. A few debilitating injuries and a plethora of minor league games later, Amaya has joined Chicago in the big leagues as the club looks to make a comeback in the NL Central.

This season, the Cubs are smirking at the fact that three-time All-Star Willson Contreras signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Cardinals. Both the Cubs and the Cardinals are sub-.500, but the Cardinals are indisputably in much worse shape.

Though Contreras’ offensive ceiling remains a little high for a rising farm talent like Amaya, the Cubs franchise may believe Amaya can make a lasting impact as a reliable two-way catcher.

Miguel Amaya is being groomed into the Cubs’ next great catcher

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said of Amaya:

“The thing that all the pitchers talk about — and even the fielders — is his level of poise. Of all the positions, that’s the hardest one to come up and break in because you’re handling so many different things.”

The oft-asked question with two-way catchers is whether or not they can stay healthy throughout their careers. Amaya has already suffered a Lisfranc fracture and had to undergo Tommy John surgery in the last two years, and injury concerns flared up again this past weekend when Amaya took a fastball to the wrist.

That said, in 15 games for the Cubs, Amaya is slashing .243/.383/.405 with two homers and six RBI. Contreras is beating Amaya in the home run and RBI categories, but the young Cub’s slashing percentages and OPS is higher than Contreras in 2023.

Does that speak more to Contreras’ struggles in St. Louis or Amaya’s healthy development? Probably a little bit of both.

Moving on from Contreras should not be a hotly debated topic as the Cubs franchise arguably squeezed all it could out of the star catcher during his prime years. With Amaya now entering the ripe stages of his career, the Cubs can sit back, relax, and watch their long-term investment shine.

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