Willson Contreras’s struggles with a new team and ultimate switch from catcher helps prove the Cubs right, and we’re only in May.
On Saturday afternoon, we learned that the St. Louis Cardinals have abandoned the game plan of using Willson Contreras at his natural position behind the plate, just months removed from signing him away from the Chicago Cubs. Contreras spent seven years in Chicago before signing with the Cardinals.
Now, the Cardinals have made a minor league call-up to backfill the catcher role while giving Contreras’s backup, Andrew Knizner, the nod at starter. Contreras will not ride the pine, but rather get opportunities at DH and the outfield.
Yet, it says a lot that in May, the Cardinals have already decided to move on from Contreras at the position they signed him for. It also says a lot for the Cubs, too.
Cubs proven right with Cardinals position switch for Willson Contreras
Buster Olney put it best in the wake of the news of Contreras losing his starting spot at catcher on Saturday:
The Cubs opted not to reunite with Contreras. At the time, that felt like a slight and a possible misfire, considering Contreras was a three-time All-Star with the Cubs. Reports at the time indicated that part of the decision to not re-sign Contreras were concerns over his game-calling and preparation (subscription required).
Now, the Cardinals are locked into this for five years and $87.5 million with Contreras. The Cubs got off scot-free, and now get to see the Cardinals squirm trying to handle the opposite end of that decision. That’s pretty sweet, considering Contreras has been one of the trendy players to blame for the Cardinals nose-dive straight to the bottom of the NL Central.
The Cubs certainly could have tried to trade Contreras last season, but given the concerns they had with him, it’s worth considering what the return may have been.
There’s time for Contreras to turn this around. But very early on, it looks like the Cubs are runaway winners in this one.