Willson Contreras rejects qualifying offer from Cubs — what’s next?

Willson Contreras’ rollercoaster of a final year under club control with the Cubs culminated with a qualifying offer decision Tuesday. The three-time All-Star catcher went from saying goodbye to Wrigley Field before the trade deadline, to almost being traded to the Astros, to returning for a final two months with the team that signed him out of Venezuela in 2009.

As expected, Contreras turned down the qualifying offer (one year, $19.65 million). He’s expected to seek a longer term contract.

When asked a couple months ago what his priorities will be in free agency, Contreras said: “I want to be somewhere that I’m wanted and to feel like they’re going to appreciate what I can do on the field and off the field. A place that appreciates what I bring to the clubhouse and what I can do.”

It’s too early to rule out anything, but the Cubs are far from the favorites to land Contreras in free agency. So, they’ll have to turn their attention to bolstering the position.

“It’s a two-way position,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said last week during the GM Meetings. “You obviously want guys that can hit, but it’s a run prevention position.”

Veteran Yan Gomes made a strong impression in the first year of his two-year contract, praised by teammates and coaches for his game calling and quick rapport with the pitching staff. The Cubs also had homegrown catcher and first baseman P.J. Higgins start 24 games behind the plate last season.

Catching prospect Miguel Amaya’s path to the major leagues has been winding due to injuries. He was out for much of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago and then missed the Arizona Fall League with a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot. But Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said last week that Amaya is on track to be fully cleared for spring training.

The Cubs have some internal options, but in 2021, when they went through eight backups behind Contreras, they saw how important depth at catcher can be.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.