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Projected Trade Proposal: Willson Contreras

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With the recent trade of Yu Darvish and the impending free agency of Bryant, Báez, and Rizzo, the Cubs’ competitive window seems to be closing. Could Willson Contreras soon depart the North Side as well?

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

When the 2016 Chicago Cubs won the World Series, it cemented their place in history, snapping a once-thought unbreakable 108-year curse. That team, highlighted by a core of Kris Bryant (the 2016 NL MVP), Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks, won 103 games and finished with a +252 run differential under Joe Maddon.

Fast-forward five years and with the departure of team president Theo Epstein, Maddon’s parting after the 2019 season, and the recent trade of Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres, the days of Chicago as perennial contenders in the NL Central seem to be coming to a halt.

With the rumors of impending free agent Bryant running rampant, another name that has drawn interest of late is that of catcher Willson Contreras.

Contreras, who debuted during the aforementioned 2016 season and has two more years of club control, reads as the one player the team could expect the best return on should be dealt.

A two-time All-Star in 2018 and 2019, respectively, Contreras owns a career 113 OPS+ in parts of five seasons. His career .351 OBP ranks second only to Buster Posey (.363)—who opted out of the 2020 season—among all qualified backstops during that span. Across the board, there are some strong similarities between Contreras right now and where J.T. Realmuto was two years when the Marlins made the difficult decision to trade him away.

Unlike most catchers though, Contreras has displayed a knack for positional versatility, both at the Minor and Major League levels. Not only a catcher, but the native-Venezuelan has logged 235 innings in the outfield, as well as a handful of games at first base. Contreras also spent time at second and third base when coming up through the Cubs’ system.

Of the many teams who would take on the services of Contreras, the Miami Marlins understandably have noted interest in the Cubs’ star backstop.

The question is, what would it take to acquire Contreras?

Per MLB.com’s Jim Callis’ September farm system rankings, the Marlins have the 5th-ranked farm system in the sport, trailing only the Mariners, Padres, Tigers, and the defending AL pennant-winning Rays. They have the prospect capital to acquire the likes of Contreras.

Earlier in the week, our own Ethan Budowsky tailored several proposals for Contreras.

Here is another take on who Miami could afford to part ways with in a potential package.


Chicago gets:

Miami gets:

  • C/OF Willson Contreras
  • Cash (1/2 of his $6.65 million owed in ‘21)

Diaz, who was acquired via trade from Minnesota for Sergio Romo in 2019, is renowned defensively for his play at first base. Offensively, Diaz owns a career .778 OPS in the minor leagues, most recently debuting at the big league level in 2020, where he hit .154 in 14 games. With Anthony Rizzo set to his free agency after the 2021 season, Diaz could serve as a possible successor should the Cubs fail to resign Rizzo.

The son of Mr. Marlin himself, Griffin Conine may’ve appeared like a loyalty selection when the team drafted him in the 31st round back in 2015, but since being a second round selection of Toronto in 2018, Conine has done nothing but hit in the lower levels of the minors, finishing 2019 with a .576 slugging percentage in Single-A Lansing. For his career, Conine owns a career .515 SLG to go with a .348 OBP. Character may be a question, as the younger Conine was suspended for PED’s in 2019, but his upside is enticing enough for Jed Hoyer to at least explore.

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Fitterer didn’t pitch in 2020 due to the minor league season being cancelled amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but pitched his first season in the Gulf Coast League in 2019, where he finished the year with a 2.38 ERA in 22 innings pitched. Only 20 years old, Fitterer will take some time before he’s big league ready, but could be part of the solution to the Cubs’ long struggling issues with young pitchers. His low-90s fastball and feel for the slider could give Chicago a mid-rotation starter should he pan out.

Hernandez’s inclusion here is, admittedly, taking a page out of the Darvish trade. When acquired by San Diego, the Padres included Zach Davies, a proven starter at the Major League level. Over 123 career starts, Davies owns a career 3.79 ERA, highlighted by a 2.73 mark in 2020, and a 17-win campaign in 2017. Hernandez, while not having achieved the level of success matching Davies, took major strides in 2020, finishing with a career-best 3.16 ERA in 6 starts. Like Davies, Hernandez is a soft-tosser by today's standards, finishing with an average fastball velocity of 91.3, 321st among 399 qualified pitchers in 2020. However, his 11.8 SO/9, which has gradually improved each season of his young career thus far, and his decreasing walk rate could make him a worthy acquisition.

While Yamamoto performed modestly in 2019 (4.46 ERA, 96 ERA+), the truncated 2020 season brought out the worst in him, as the native-Hawaiian finished with a eye-covering 18.26 ERA, allowing 24 earned runs in just 11 innings of work. To be fair though, 12 of those 24 runs came in one disastrous outing against the Atlanta Braves in a 29-9 rout back in September. A career 3.75 ERA over parts of 6 minor league seasons, Yamamoto still has the potential to be a back-end starter on a good team, and with the blockade of young pitchers Miami hopes to get in South Beach in the near future, he may be best served elsewhere.

Poll

Getting Willson Contreras and cash for a package of Lewin Díaz, Griffin Conine, Evan Fitterer, Elieser Hernandez and Jordan Yamamoto would be ___

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    An overpay!
    (228 votes)
  • 25%
    A bargain!
    (119 votes)
  • 24%
    Fair for both sides
    (114 votes)
461 votes total Vote Now