The latest from Ken Rosenthal gets into the Houston Astros and free agent catcher Willson Contreras, with enough ink spilled that you’d be forgiven for thinking this pairing is quite serious.
We may find out more as soon as the Winter Meetings next week:
As Rosenthal notes, there was the midseason trade for Contreras put together by now-former GM James Click, which was squashed by owner Jim Crane (on the urging of manager Dusty Baker). But now there are no concerns about losing pitching depth in the trade (which would’ve netted the Cubs Jose Urquidy), nor about integrating a new catcher in-season.
And the Astros still like Contreras. From Rosenthal:
The Astros like Contreras in part because he can play left field, particularly at Minute Maid Park, which has the second-smallest left field in the majors after Fenway Park. Most of Contreras’ limited time in left was in 2016, his rookie season. But in theory, he could alternate with Yordan Alvarez in left and at DH while also catching on occasion.
It’s the way to get the most out of Contreras’s excellent bat, without overexposing him behind the plate *IF* you have reservations about his defensive/game-calling/etc. skills.
There is no sense out there whatsoever that the Cubs are going to seriously re-engage Contreras in discussions, so this offseason is pretty much all about following wherever he winds up (and hoping it isn’t St. Louis). When he does sign with a new team, the Cubs will pick up a compensatory draft pick after the second round in the 2023 draft.