The LA Angels reuniting Joe Maddon with Willson Contreras makes too much sense to pass up.
Saying the LA Angels need some help behind the plate might be understating things. The team recently signed Juan Graterol to a minor-league deal, and have Max Stassi and Anthony Bemboom on the active roster. The Angels can name any one of those three as the starting catcher, but there is no guarantee of much offense. Instead, the team needs to go after Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
Chicago has been busy restructuring their roster this offseason, cutting Kyle Schwarber, trading Yu Darvish, and are now shopping one of baseball’s best backstops. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (subscription required) reports the Angels are one of the teams interested in Contreras. The connection between manager Joe Maddon and Contreras from their days in Chicago could push GM Perry Minasian to pursue a deal.
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Just 28 years-old, Contreras holds a career .814 OPS in his five major league seasons. He is also set to make ~$7.4 million in arbitration this year and is under team control through the 2022 season. If the Cubs play their cards right, they could, and probably should get a King’s Ransom for Contreras considering his high-upside and contract situation.
Contreras Last Five Seasons:
- 2016: (76 games) 12 HR 35 RBI .282 BA .845 OPS
- 2017: (117 games) 21 HR 74 RBI .276 BA .855 OPS
- 2018: (138 games) 10 HR 54 RBI .249 BA .730 OPS (All-Star)
- 2019: (105 games) 24 HR 64 RBI .272 BA .888 OPS (All-Star)
- 2020: (57 games) 7 HR 26 RBI .243 BA .763 OPS
Now the big question here is, what do the Angels have to offer? The Darvish-Padres deal saw the Cubs essentially get a group of teenagers and Zach Davies. Though, that was likely due to the age of Darvish (34) and the remaining portion of his contract.
It’s unlikely the Cubs will want to go that young in this type of trade, they probably want to go after prospects who are closer to the MLB level. The Cubs need to develop pitching, and one name that could intrigue them to make a deal like this is the young lefty Reid Detmers. Outfielders Jordyn Adam and Bradon Marsh are also players the Cubs might consider due to their thin outfield depth.
Trading any one or more of those prospects would impact the long-term future, but it would mean having at least two years of control in one of baseball’s best catchers. Who knows, maybe Contreras likes the Angels and playing for Maddon so he decides to stay for the long haul when his current contract is up. Regardless, making this trade happen will instantly improve the Angels, and gives them a shot to be a World Series contender if they are in a “win-now” mode. Some times it’s a necessary gamble.
Being from Chicago, I’ve watched Contreras since he came up to the big leagues. As a matter a fact, I was at his MLB debut on Father’s Day, when he hit a home-run on the first pitch of his first at-bat.
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The guy is a beast on both sides of the ball, plain and simple. Catchers who can dominate on offense and defense are rare, and when you mix in the passion this guy plays with you have something special. He already plays every game like he has a chip on his shoulder, I could only imagine what he does if the Cubs trade him to the Angels.