“Baby, I got your number, oh and I know that you got mine. You know that I called you. I called you many times.” – Tracy Chapman, Give Me One Reason
What if the Cubs didn’t trade Willson Contreras? Would that be so bad?
I’ve been reading a lot of Cubs blogs during the All-Star break and there is just so much nonsense out there that it will make your head spin. Without getting into some of the ridiculousness in the barrage of Juan Soto rumors, I think we might be overlooking some evidence, circumstantial as it may be, that could indicate a Contreras trade is not necessarily a given.
I’m going to sacrifice the inverted pyramid with which I usually try to build my pieces by first doing a 180. Contreras has said he and his agent have had no extension talks with the Cubs. That’s hard evidence that a trade is likely. The catcher’s teammates also gave him the ball from his last hit at Wrigley Field on Sunday after he singled in the 8th inning. That makes a compelling case that at least his teammates and David Ross believe a trade is imminent.
It’s almost impossible to argue with those two points, but I’m going to anyway just so I don’t have to write about Soto. He’s not coming to the Cubs. Give it up, please and thank you.
Interestingly, Contreras believes that his appearance as a starter in Tuesday night’s game was not his last as a Chicago Cub. It’s possible he was trying to be complementary to the Cubs in a polite way that runs counter to his fiery personality on the field or it may have just been wishful thinking out loud. Still, that type of sentimentality is usually accompanied by information that at the very least means the Cubs may be in a holding pattern when it comes to dealing the All-Star backstop.
The market for Contreras might not be as robust as Jed Hoyer would like, and if the president of baseball operations has done anything positive since taking over for Theo Epstein, it’s destroying his peers in trades. I’ll bet five years from now we will have evidence of the fact that he won every 2021 deal in a landslide, sans the Craig Kimbrel trade with the White Sox. I mean, we could actually say that now but let’s wait until the kids have grown into Wrigley Field favorites.
What team is most likely to make a play for Contreras and what could Hoyer get in return? The options and accompanying rewards seem to shrink with each passing day.
The Yankees would rather not disrupt their elite pitching staff by adding a new catcher and the Astros are of a similar mindset. The Giants might be interested but have little to give up and Joey Bart doesn’t move the needle for me. The Mets seem like the likeliest of suitors but nothing concrete indicates Contreras is at the top of their list. In fact, there seems to be growing speculation that they’re going to promote Francisco Álvarez and roll the dice with the rookie.
The White Sox, Brewers, or Cardinals? No, no and, uh, NO. Hoyer and the Padres have been doing the middle-school slow dance since last July but refuse to get close enough to raise the eyebrows of anyone watching. The Rays might make sense, but I don’t think they’ll give Hoyer the type of return he wants because Contreras is strictly a rental for Tampa Bay. The Red Sox are falling out of the race, the Angels continue to be a hot mess, and though the Mariners might be a good fit, they’re on the verge of building an annually elite team. I think they’re unlikely to divert and go all in for a single season. Seattle is a lot like the 2015 Cubs right now.
A trade with the Braves would be a fun story and I’m leaning more toward that because it might inspire Contreras to return to the Cubs this winter. William Contreras could work under the tutelage of his older brother for two months while Atlanta makes a run for its second consecutive ring. Because the National League has a designated hitter, the two could be in the lineup together daily. Imagine the postseason storyline and the joy the two brothers would share once the calendar turns to October.
Other than that, the better option might be to negotiate an extension. The front office concluded its 2022 draft by using 80% of their selections on pitchers. Why? They are out of room to add position players to the organization. It looks like Cade Horton will be fast-tracked to the majors, possibly as soon as next year, and Caleb Kilian will be back sometime next month. Jordan Wicks and DJ Herz are getting closer as Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson are still growing into their craft. What would be the point in replacing Contreras with a lesser entity like Bart? If anything, trade Yan Gomes, extend Contreras, let P.J. Higgins serve as the backup, and then draft a catcher next year.
Sometimes things make too much sense to be doable, I suppose.
Cubs News & Notes
- Matt Swarmer cleared waivers and was outrighted to Iowa.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago named Contreras as Chicago’s hottest trade chip. I’m not sure what metric he uses, but Ian Happ is the team’s top trade chip, full stop.
- Closer David Robertson was listed as one of 10 players whose stock is rising ahead of the August 2 deadline. The Mets, Red Sox, and Twins are listed as potential fits.
- Outfield prospect Alexander Canario has been destroying baseballs all month. He has seven home runs and eight doubles in his last 87 at-bats. That’s good for a .598 SLG.
- Jackson Ferris is a strikeout machine and has that “it factor” swag to boot.
- You’ll need a subscription to ESPN+ to access the content, but Kylie McDaniel thought highly of the Cubs draft, compared Horton to peak Chris Archer, and believes a delivery tweak will give Ferris starter-level command with three above-average pitches.
- If you are interested in following which draft picks have signed, Baseball America has a frequently updated tracker that does not require a paid subscription to access. The Cubs have yet to sign any of their 2022 picks.
Odds & Sods
In addition to being a rising star, an all-around cool guy, and a savvy marketer, Julio Rodríguez has legit artwork for baseball bats.
👀 I’m giving away one of my signed @VictusSports All-Star bats
— Julio Rodriguez🇩🇴🦁 (@JRODshow44) July 22, 2022
How About That!
You have to think that if Mets owner Steve Cohen really wants Soto, nothing will stop him from making a deal. He’s certainly not afraid to be the first owner to venture into baseball’s fourth competitive balance threshold territory. For 2022 payrolls that exceed $290 million, a first-time payor will owe a tax of 80% of the difference between the first and fourth tiers.
If any team is a virtual lock to make the playoffs, it’s the Yankees.
Because about 98% of first and second-round draft choices sign professional contracts, colleges wait with bated breath to see how those signings will impact their recruiting classes.
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray signed a $230.5 million extension that will pay him a guaranteed $46.1 million this season. The Athletics, who originally drafted Murray, have a 2022 payroll of $48.5 million.
Baseball is really struggling with attendance numbers.
The pandemic and inflation have hit the game hard, but the costs associated with attending a game are out of control, too.
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- Bears head coach Matt Eberflus wants his players to be ready to go for training camp because “we are blowing and going from day one.” I don’t necessarily like the phrasing but I do like the attitude.
- Edge rusher Robert Quinn broke Chicago’s single-season sack record last year, but advanced metrics suggest he’s a candidate for regression.
- My seven-year-old niece accidentally called Bitcoin “shitcoins” and I couldn’t keep myself from laughing, or thinking she is probably right.
- COVID is now 2-for-2 against US presidents after Joe Biden announced he tested positive yesterday.
- A heatwave will blanket much of the United States through at least early next week, and utility companies are already struggling to meet demand.
- Bruce Springsteen, musical champion of the poor, downtrodden, and all things middle America, is charging up to $4,000 per ticket for “Official Platinum” seats at the first six shows of his current tour.
They Said It
- “[Willson] deserves everything coming his way, he’s done a phenomenal job for us.” – Ross
- “I hope this is not my last time wearing the Cubs jersey, to be honest. I don’t see myself going anywhere else, but this is business and we will have to understand the business now. If the Cubs can get a really good package for me, they’re going to do it. If they don’t do it, I’ll be more than thankful and proud to stay here with the Cubs and my teammates. But as of right now, I don’t see myself wearing another uniform.” – Contreras, during Chicago’s last homestand.
Friday Walk-Up Song
My most favorite sing-along song.