Willson Contreras would be a strong long-term fit for the Houston Astros behind the plate. But does he make sense?
On Tuesday, Bob Nightengale reported that the Chicago Cubs are “extensively shopping” catcher Willson Contreras. As the Houston Astros have been linked to Jason Castro, they could audible and go all in on the All-Star catcher. There are two side effects to trading for the Venezuelan-born catcher: the Astros will be going all in for another World Series title and they will lose any chance of a future.
In 2019, the Astros dealt four prospects for Zack Greinke, and Contreras could require a similar haul. The Cubs are in a shuffling mode as seen by the Yu Darvish trade and the non-tendering of Kyle Schwarber, but they could add a familiar face in Martin Maldonado plus someone like RHP Jojanse Torres and RHP Tyler Brown who currently sit at #14 and #16 on the Astros prospect list.
Contreras would be the best all-around catcher in relation to the past decade to play for Houston and would be a strong bat in the middle-to-backend of the order. The right-handed slugger has a career OPS of .814 and is an extra-base hitter with a career .463 slugging percentage. Contreras is arguably the second best catcher in the National League and comes with a cannon of an arm (only 17 base runners ran on him in 41 games in 2020; nine of them were thrown out). His caught stealing percentage is 11% higher than league average. Additionally, Contreras has been known for his framing which can go a long way with a pitcher like Lance McCullers Jr.
The Astros would have to blow up their minor-league system even more to bring in Contreras, but if it doesn’t even lead to World Series ring in the end, is it worth it? Contreras will make around $5-7.4 million in arbitration for the ’21 season, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Factoring in the possible extensions of current Astros Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr., it could be a tough task to manage another high-end player in your payroll. The Astros would be getting a full package in Contreras, but risking the future of the minor league system would be the soul reason for this trade never to happen.