Commentary: Cubs will have to trade Wilson Contreras


by - Correspondent -
The Cubs might eventually deal Contreras if their losing ways continue (Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports)
The Cubs might eventually deal Contreras if their losing ways continue (Patrick Gorski - USA Today Sports)

After Theo Epstein was hired as Cubs President of Baseball Operations in 2011, he made some difficult decisions with some popular players. He knew the Cubs team he inherited was not good enough to compete for a World Series title and needed to be gutted.

Epstein decided to trade away/release players like Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza, and Jeff Samardzija. Some of the trades were brilliant and helped build the 2016 World Series Championship team, some didn't work out, but Epstein did what he thought was needed to be done. I remember attending a game in 2012, and my friend who went with me said Alfonso Soriano is all they have left.

Jed Hoyer is facing another similar decision with catcher Wilson Contreras. If I were Hoyer, I would trade Contreas for the best prospects that a team would give me. As you can see by the last couple of weeks, the Cubs are not going anywhere in 2022. Contreas is 29 and a free agent at the end of the season, and the Cubs seem very unlikely to re-sign him. According to reports, there have been no negotiation talks between the Cubs and Contreras.

If they keep him, they risk losing him to free agency.

The Cubs have Yan Gomes, a veteran catcher who could help with the pitching staff, plus the future catcher, Miquel Amaya, who is coming off Tommy John surgery but is close to the big-league level. Gomes could help mentor him. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez are all gone. Why stop now?

As Jed Hoyer said last August, it is time to go all-in, hopefully trading Contreas and bringing back some more prospects like Caleb Kilian and Alexander Canario, who the Cubs received from the Giants for Bryant, Pete Crow Armstrong, who the Cubs acquired from the Mets for Baez, and Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal, who the Cubs received from the White Sox for Craig Kimbrel.

That also brings me to my next subject, keeping Jason Heyward. If you were to ask Jason Heyward, he would be the first person to tell you that he has not lived up to his 8-year $184 million contract he signed in 2015. Yes, he gave the speech during the rain delay during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series that helped inspire the memory of a lifetime. Still, no major league team will trade for him and pay him that kind of money so trading him is out of the question. Especially since joining the Cubs, he has never hit higher than .270 with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs.

Jason Heyward is a professional, though, and he can show the young players what it takes to be successful in the big leagues. He also chose to play for the Cubs over the hated Cardinals because he thought the Cubs' future was better. Heyward has also made no excuses about not living up to the contract, and he has tried to get better. While his offense has not been up to par with his contract, his defense has remained at a Gold Glove level in both right and center field. Let's also not forget what he did for David Ross in 2016. For those who do not the story, David Ross's last season in the majors was 2016, and when Heyward came up in 2010 to the Atlanta Braves, David Ross took Heyward under his wing and showed him how to be a pro in the majors, and what Major League Baseball was like. In return, Heyward bought Ross a suite at every hotel the Cubs played on the road in 2016. As Heyward said, he took care of me, so I'm taking care of him.

Sometimes you need veterans who know how to win and have been through the wars to teach young players about the big leagues. Jason Heyward helped the Cubs in 2016. Let's hope he can also help guide the next great Cubs team on how to win.

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