Willson Contreras – one of the best offensive catchers in Chicago Cubs history – is leaving for the rival St. Louis Cardinals

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.


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