Why is Cubs free agent Wilson Contreras facing the Waiting Winter game

Why is Cubs free agent Wilson Contreras facing the Waiting Winter game

Why Willson Contreras’ Free Agency Looks Like a Waiting Game that originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAS VEGAS – After four days of GM meetings with dealers and MLB executives, perhaps the two biggest indicators of Willson Contreras’s free-dealer market have become clear:

July Trade Market.

And this.

Contreras, who in the coming days is expected to turn down Thursday’s playoff bid from the Cubs, is the Winter Freeman – one of the game’s best offensive players in position and a National League starter in three of the last four. All star games.

Related: The Cubs make a qualifying bid for Willson Contreras

But criticism of his receiving skills persisted among executives at GM meetings, with one calling him a better version of bat hunter Gary Sanchez.

This was one of the reasons the Cubs believed they had found what one source called a “lukewarm” market when they shopped hard in the weeks leading up to the August 2 trading deadline. Another big reason was the adverse general market slowdown that resulted from the citizens’ eventual decision to trade with Juan Soto – who traded with Padres, who were early suitors to Contreras.

Either way, when an agreed-upon deal to send Contreras to Houston in exchange for bowler Jose Orkedi was rejected by the Astros ownership (at the suggestion of manager Dusty Baker) the day before the deadline, the Cubs were left with nowhere to turn to find a bargain of value. With less than 24 hours left.

Perhaps the Cubs overreacted to some teams.

They certainly didn’t do Contreras – their rookie starter at the 2016 World Championships – any favors. The qualifying bid would tie him to his enlistment choice compensation and add another damper to his best career shot at getting his best contract.

He’s still in a position to lead a solid multi-year deal, particularly in a climate of scarcity. He is a competitive, sharp player with a winning pedigree and has the drive to keep improving.

Houston remains interested and met with representatives of Contreras during GM’s meetings this week.

The Cardinal is keeping that option open as they explore how to best pay off the loss of future Hall of Fame player Yadier Molina’s retirement – even as they grieving the loss of Molina’s influence behind the board in particular.

“We know we’re not going to replace Yadi,” said John Muziliak, the Cardinals’ head of baseball operations. “He was a defensive expert. But we don’t want to go too low defensively because our squad is all about defence.

He added, “The other thing that can’t be seen, is that Yadi was very good at helping set up the game, the playing strategy and obviously the in-game decisions with the bowler. His baseball IQ was amazing.”

“How do you refill that or replace it? This is an internal thing that we have to work through.”

When an industry insider was told that cards were an early favorite for Contreras, Mozeliak said, “Is that a compliment?”

Regardless, it’s too soon to tell where the cards will land in their efforts to fill that huge gap in their team.

“We will explore the trade market and understand what that looks like,” he said. “Sure, we will try to understand what the free agent market is like.

“It’s really hard to understand the market yet.”

Executives from both tournaments this week predicted that the hunters’ commercial market would play out before the Contreras market was settled, with speculation centered on whether Oakland would make gold glove hunter Sean Murphy available and Toronto deals from trio Danny Jansen, Gabriel Moreno or even All-Star Alejandro Kirk. .

The White Sox, for example, has garnered a terrible production from its $73 million hunter, Yasmani Grandal, who is heading into the final year of his four-year contract at a time when the Sox were at an important crossroads to re-establish their competitive window.

GM Rick Hahn said he expects to make his most significant additions through trade rather than free dealership this winter.

“Do we have to add a mask to get what we want to do next year?” He said. “number.

“Do we have to improve in various positions? Yes. And that was definitely one of the areas that underperformed. … It is an area that we can take on, be it external or internal.”

It’s also a well-known area around, including at both airports on his trips to GM meetings.

Once in O’Hare and once in [McCarron Airport in Vegas] When I was getting my bag, I had several fans telling me that the catcher was an area we needed to improve,” he said. “So that was revealed.”

So is the jury on the strength of Contreras in the market.

Some in the Cubs organization are even questioning whether he will end up with the club on a lower-than-expected deal – although no one seems to actually expect it.

This is certainly not in the minds of anyone on the other side of that equation.

One loose speculation during the meetings linked Contreras to the Tigers based on their need and the recent appointment of former GM Cubs assistant Scott Harris to run baseball operations there.

But when asked about his list priorities this winter, Harris raised three sites that weren’t committed.

“Hunting is an area we can improve on, but there are a lot of areas on this list that we can improve on,” Harris said, adding that the Tigers have some potential offering possible long-term solutions to the need, implying that a long-term addition may not be appropriate.

“It’s really hard to rate the pickup location throughout the game,” he added. “Additional catches seem to be rare, certainly in free agency, year after year.”

Obviously, this general rarity will help position Contreras in the market.

It may just take some time.

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