Oh my.

Well, folks have been banging the drum for one of the hottest-hitting prospects in all of baseball, and it sounds like he’s coming:

Contreras, 24, is the proud owner of a .353/.442/.593 line at AAA (176 wRC+) and a 20-game hitting streak, and peripherals that make you drool (11.7% BB rate, 13.3% K rate, .240(!) ISO). He is the top prospect in the Cubs’ system, and, in these regards, a call-up right now makes plenty of sense.

The question with Contreras, a converted catcher going a few years back, has always been about his readiness to catch at the big league level. He’s a great athlete, and the skills are developing, but handling a big league staff is simply a whole other animal. This discussion, then, is not altogether dissimilar from the one we had for a long time about Kyle Schwarber.



It remains to be seen just how Contreras will be used, and whose spot he’ll be taking on the roster [SEE UPDATE BELOW]. The Cubs have three catchers now, in Miguel Montero, David Ross, and Tim Federowicz. It could be a Ross concussion-type thing (per Matt Spiegel/Ron Coomer), it could be Montero’s lingering back issue, or it could be the Cubs moving on from Federowicz.

Unless the Cubs think Contreras is ready to catch regularly in the bigs, though, I kinda doubt that last one. I wouldn’t expect the Cubs to call up Contreras right now as the third catcher, only to see him catch once a week and sit the rest of the time. [SEE UPDATE BELOW, as sometimes Brett is wrong.]

Thus, I’m tentatively expecting a short visit for Contreras, temporarily replacing a back-up catcher, and getting only a few looks behind the plate at this time. But that’s just my guess based on admittedly little information right now. We’ll see how this plays out when there’s a little more information available.



UPDATE: Well, looks like my instinct was wrong on this one:

You will recall that if the Cubs waive Federowicz, even if he clears, he can elect free agency. And, given that he is ostensibly being replaced on the roster – a roster already featuring three catchers – by a young catcher, he may well decide his path back ot the big leagues is best with another organization.

Letting Federowicz go, then (if that’s what happens), would seem to suggest Contreras is going to do more than just come up and ride the pine as the third catcher. I doubt he’d immediately be catching guys like Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, but he could see a fair bit of time behind the plate, in addition to being a big bat off the bench.

I’m pretty excited.

UPDATE 2 (Michael): Rosenthal saying that Contreras will be the third catcher, behind Ross and Montero:

But with that said, I’d still bet that he’ll see a heck of a lot more time than Federowicz ever did. Montero will still catch Arrieta and Ross will still catch Jon Lester, but from there, I’d guess that Contreras will get his deserved time behind the plate with the remaining three starters. I’m just not sure what the point would really have been otherwise. That said, his bat off the bench will be a welcomed one, undoubtedly.



UPDATE 3 (Michael): Contreras will come up on Friday, for the Pirates series at Wrigley Field (which both Brett and I will be at! Please let him start, oh Baseball God of Lineups).

UPDATE 4: It appears that Tim Federowicz will indeed be DFA’d, as expected.


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