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  • Ethan Semendinger

Addressing The Needs: Willson Contreras

Through 1/4th of the season the Yankees are playing great. However, there are concerns for some positions. Are fixes available now?

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Who is Willson Contreras?

Willson Contreras signed with the Chicago Cubs as an international free agent in 2009 as a 17 year old. He then started his professional career that same year with the Cubs 2 Team in the Dominican Summer League (Foreign Rookie). Contreras would spend 2009 and 2010 before earning a stateside promotion to the Boise Hawks (Class-A Short Season) where he played for another two seasons between 2011 and 2012. It was a typical progression for an international catcher, albeit a little slow.


However, going into the 2013 season Contreras turned 21-years-old and his career arc really started to take shape, moving up a level with each season. He spent 2013 with the Kane County Cougars (Class-A), 2014 saw him with the Daytona Cubs (Class-A-Advanced), 2015 with the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A) and the Mesa Solar Sox (Arizona Fall League), and 2016 with the Iowa Cubs (Triple-A). Before the 2016 season, Contreras was also a unanimous Top-100 prospect (his first appearance on any ranking); was placed as high as #50 by MLB Pipeline.


Contreras would make his MLB debut on June 17th, 2016 and- like Tyler Stephenson yesterday- he hit a home run in his first ever plate appearance. (That's a strange coincidence!) He would become the Cubs full-time starting catcher in 2017 and hasn't looked back over the last 5 seasons. He's twice been an All-Star (2018 & 2019) and over his career he has hit to a combined .259/.351/.458 (.809 OPS/113 OPS+) extended triple-slash.


So far in 2022, he is hitting to a .258/.382/.458 (.840 OPS/139 OPS+) extended triple-slash over 34 games.

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Why the Yankees Could/Should Get Him:

Much like the Cincinnati Reds as we looked at yesterday, the Chicago Cubs are not in the right position this year to contend. They've seen their core from the 2016 postseason all but up and go elsewhere in Kris Bryant (Colorado Rockies), Anthony Rizzo (New York Yankees), Javier Baez (Detroit Tigers), Jake Arrieta (originally Philadelphia Phillies), and others. Currently the Cubs have a record of 17-24 (.415 WP) and are 8.5 games back in their division and 5 games back in the wild card. Is the season over? No, but it's slim for them as they have a 0.1% chance to make the postseason as of now.


Willson Contreras is one of the more valuable players that the Cubs could move, if they so choose to do so. According to BaseballTradeValues, he's their 13th most valuable player (and 6th most valuable non-prospect) that they have at a value of +7.8 MTV. He is in his final year of arbitration, with about $14M still owed to him through the rest of season before he becomes a free agent.


Given the relatively low cost to acquire Contreras, the Yankees have a large variety of moves that they could make to match his value. So, let me have a little fun and consider the following trade:


Yankees Get: Willson Contreras (+7.8), David Robertson (+0.0), and $4M Cash = +11.8 MTV

Cubs Get: Jose Trevino (+1.9), Austin Wells (+8.3), and Ron Marinaccio (+2.5) = +12.7 MTV


The Yankees get a short term solution for catcher in Willson Contreras during a year of contention, as well as a 2nd return home for David Robertson (who is having a good year!) after they lost Chad Green, and a little money to help with the luxury tax.


The Cubs get a solid MLB fill-in catcher in Jose Trevino, a promising catcher for the future (and Top-100 prospect) in Austin Wells, and a near-ready MLB reliever (and Yankees Top-30 prospect) with some promise in Ron Marinaccio. It's not an underheard of proposition.

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Why the Yankees Couldn't/Shouldn't Get Him:

The Yankees aren't the only contending team that needs help at catcher. This means a bidding war is likely to take place for a team to get Contreras, and the Chicago Cubs know and understand this. Trading him in the moment won't get back the best return (hypothetically) unless a team is willing to overpay right now.


For the Yankees, there are not many (if any) reasons that I can see as to why they wouldn't want to get Contreras.

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Ethan's Major Take:

Has the Kyle Higashioka/Jose Trevino experiment worked out so far? Not at all. And as a resident Kyle Higashioka apologist, I am not willing to give up on him, so bye bye Jose Trevino. (That also being said, Higashioka has more value on BTV at +4.3 over Trevino's +1.9.)


This is a move the Yankees should be willing to make right now. It would fix the catching problem on offense and Higgy could fall back into his good role as a back-up/Gerrit Cole's personal catcher with some pop. Add in bringing back D-Rob and this would be an awesome trade as he would get a (second) hometown reunion and fill the Chad Green role.

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