For all the talk that former Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras did this past offseason in speaking out against the reported criticisms from Cubs manager David Ross regarding Contreras’ catching ability, it would appear that Ross could say that he told us so.
On Saturday, the Cardinals promoted catching prospect Tres Barrera to the Major League level and signaled that the team may have tired of Contreras as a catcher. Katie Woo of The Athletic reports that Contreras will no longer serve as a catcher moving forward this season with the Cardinals.
“Contreras will not be catching games for the Cardinals in the immediate future, at least not as their primary backstop. Andrew Knizner will take over behind the plate, with Barrera serving as the reserve catcher or a late-inning defensive replacement. Contreras, the Cardinals’ prized off-season acquisition, who signed for $87.5 million to be the starting catcher for the next five years, will be relegated mostly to designated hitter. He will also spend time in left field, despite totaling just 35 games in the outfield throughout his seven-year career.”
– Katie Wood of The Athletic
Contreras, who prides himself on his catching ability, spoke with reporters on Saturday about the move.
““It caught me by surprise that Tres was up,” Contreras said. “I mean, I’m happy for him to be here because he’s a great guy. But it seems like I’m going to DH more than catching, which is not my decision, but I have to get used to it.” “It’s tough, but I’m an employee,” he added. “I know my primary position is catching, but if they want me to DH more, I can do nothing about it except by being the best hitter I can be.””
– Willson Contreras via The Athletic
A little over a month into what was meant to be a grand transition from Yadier Molina to Contreras at the catching position for the Cardinals, Contreras will no longer be catching games for St. Louis.
For all the praising that Contreras had for the Cardinals’ way entering this season, he is proving to be the same catcher that he was with the Cubs. There is no doubt that Contreras has a strong arm behind the plate but he struggles to handle a pitching staff and the struggles of the Cardinals’ pitchers this season is a large part of the reason why the team has started the season with a record of 10-24.
This would be why the Major League Baseball trade deadline was telling last season. Major League Baseball does not consider Contreras to be valuable at the catching position because of his defense and ability to manage a pitching staff. Contreras’ offensive ability is what made him stand out at the catching position. The Cubs way’ made it clear that Contreras had his shortcomings as a catcher and the Cardinals’ way all but confirmed it.