Willson Contreras will have plenty of opportunities to make the Chicago Cubs regret letting him go.
Contreras reached an agreement with St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, a source confirmed to the Tribune. The Cubs’ National League rivals reportedly gave him a five-year, $87.5 million contract to replace retired catcher Yadier Molina. The Cubs will receive a compensatory pick for giving Contreras a qualifying offer.
Since I reported to spring training nine months ago, Contreras often made it clear he wanted to stay a chicken for life. A contract extension never materialized, and after testing free agency, Contreras opted to sign with the division. The Cubs will get a lot of scrutiny over the next five years if they made the right choice not to keep the 30-year-old, three-time All-Star.
“Willson is a very good competitor,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said Wednesday before the trade was completed. “We talked earlier about the love of winning, and this is a guy who loves to win, wakes up thinking about it, goes to bed thinking about it.
“I’ve seen quite a bit across the road and he’s a guy you don’t want to race against because you know he’s pretty good. So, yes, he’s a great competitor and we respect his game.”
Contreras will face his old team for the first time in a three-game series May 8-10 at Wrigley Field.
He leaves the Cubs as a World Series champion and one of the franchise’s best offensive catchers with a .256/.349/.459 slash line and 115 OPS+ over seven seasons. Contreras hit 22 home runs in 2022 to become the first Cubs catcher and the 17th Cub overall to record at least four 20-home run seasons.
A first-inning grand slam on May 16 against the Pittsburgh Pirates was Contreras’ 100th career home run; only two other Cubs catchers, Gabby Hartnett and Jody Davis, had previously reached that milestone.