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Could Chicago Cubs Catcher Contreras Sign a Deal with Cardinals in Free Agency?

Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras could likely see his exit from the club, but could he wind up with the St. Louis Cardinals?

The Chicago Cubs traded away or have lost the majority of their core players from the 2016 World Series run. Catcher Willson Contreras is one of the few left standing despite heavy speculation that he would be moved at both the 2021 and 2022 MLB trade deadlines. 

For some reason, potentially to keep a veteran presence around a young team to help with development, Contreras stayed put at both deadlines. However, he is due to hit free agency this winter and the likelihood of him continuing to play for the Cubs is slim to none.

Enter the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cubs insider David Kaplan speculated on his "reKAP" that Contreras very well could wind up signing with Chicago's NL Central division rivals in St. Louis.

It makes sense on a couple fronts.

To start, the Cardinals are losing what is sure to be a Hall of Famer in Yadier Molina behind the plate. The Puerto Rican has been a staple behind the plate for the Cardinals for 19 seasons. They will be in need of a catcher. 

Secondly, St. Louis loves star power, no need to look further than 2022 NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt as well as potentially the best third baseman in baseball in Nolan Arenado. Adding Contreras to that lineup would immediately make it one of the most potent in baseball. 

They already sit at fourth in MLB in runs scored at 4.90 for the 2022 season. Adding a bat like Contreras could push them to contend with offenses that rhyme with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Finally, for a team looking for an All-Star caliber catcher, Contreras is one of the few options on the market that would fit that bill.

Of course, none of this bodes well for Chicago who hope that their young players take a step forward next year and that the money flows this winter in acquiring proven, veteran players. Contention in 2023 is not out of the question. In fact, it is expected from a club like the Cubs.

Additionally, losing Contreras to a bitter rival hurts, but losing him to a team within the division not only weakens Chicago but strengthens that divisional foe in one fell swoop.

Now, all of this can be avoided if the Cubs extend a qualifying offer to Contreras (likely) and he accepts (unlikely) or if they dish out the money to extend the catcher. The extension route seems unlikely as both sides apparently haven't discussed the matter since 2017.

Five years.

That's not to say it won't happen before the end of the season or when Chicago has exclusive negotiating rights immediately after the World Series. And speculation has only increased after the Cubs were reluctant to trade their clubhouse leader at both of the previous deadlines. 

Or all of this could be wrong and he accepts the qualifying offer and then works out an extension next season.

Regardless, a team like Cardinals cannot be afforded the opportunity to land a player like Contreras for the Cubs' sake. 

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