Like I said yesterday when Jeff Passan first mentioned that multiple teams in search of a catcher were expecting that the Cubs would be making Willson Contreras available, that’s not necessarily something we wouldn’t have been able to say on our own weeks ago. We know the Cubs are trying to overhaul the roster, and we know they’re going to be open-minded about everyone.
But the fact that Passan was saying it as the entree to his GM Meetings coverage … it just sounded like a little bit more than him making an obvious point. It struck me more as a, “oh, yeah, he’s heard some things” kind of statement.
In further support? There’s a little local backup now from Passan’s colleague at ESPN:
Jeff is on the money with this one https://t.co/tWMv3Oluxu
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) November 8, 2019
He’s not giving an opinion. I’ve said as much on radio as well. Smh https://t.co/GVEfzaPTut
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) November 9, 2019
In other words, Rogers is confirming that other teams do believe Contreras is going to be available, and, since that’s now coming out of Chicago, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Contreras probably IS available.
Again, I want to be very cautious before folks who love Willy freak out: this still isn’t the same thing as hearing that the Cubs are affirmatively trying to move Contreras in trade. Yes, it’s more than a mere “they listen on everyone,” but it’s not like we’re being told that Contreras is a goner.
Instead, I think the best way to sum things up, given what we know of the organization, where they are in their process (step back?), what Theo Epstein has said, and what these reports suggest: the Cubs are interested in finding out just how much value Contreras has on the trade market. And if there is a fit that substantially improves the Cubs for 2021 and beyond without hurting them TOO much in 2020, they’re willing to consider it. (That goes for a few guys, to be sure, but Contreras is the one we’re hearing about now, and might be the one most realistically covered for internally and in free agency.)
I don’t think any of us simply wants to see Contreras gone. But this is the fandom pain that comes with club growing a core, holding them together for a long time, and then recognizing that serious change is necessary. It isn’t going to be serious change if it involves only peripheral roster elements that don’t really impact your emotional connection to the club.
For much more on what goes into making someone like Contreras available right now, read the thoughts from yesterday if you missed it.