The Rundown: Willson Contreras Gives Cubs Valuable Trade Chip, Ernie Banks 1953 Scouting Report, Longest Cubs Taters of 2020

If Jed Hoyer really wants to make an immediate impact, he might consider trading Willson Contreras. The backstop has his two years of team control remaining and is probably the Cubs’ most attractive trade chip. Only J.T. Realmuto offers something comparable among free agent catchers, unless the Yankees decide to non-tender Gary Sánchez.

Contreras would have no shortage of suitors and could help the Cubs acquire a youn pitcher or contact-hitting position player, two things the team desperately needs.

The 28-year-old could earn as much as $7.4 million in his second year of arbitration, not an insignificant amount with the team wanting to cut payroll. Theo Epstein may have waited too long to pull the trigger on potential trades for players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, whose values in this year’s trade market make either nearly immovable. They’re even potential non-tender candidates, meaning the Cubs could theoretically let both walk for zero return. Nothing would sting more.

Hoyer may not want to make the same mistake with Contreras, who could be on a path to become baseball’s highest paid catcher once he enters free agency after the 2022 season. Along with his vastly improved pitch framing, he has a legitimate cannon and is one of the game’s more emotional players. He’s led major league catchers in wOBA (.348) since his 2016 debut and is third in wRC+ (116), trailing only Yasmani Grandal and Sánchez.

The Rays are looking for catching and though they likely wouldn’t part with number one prospect Wander Franco, Tampa Bay has a number of intriguing prospects. That list includes second baseman Xavier Edwards and pitchers Shane Baz and Brent Honeywell. But the guy who could interest Hoyer the most is outfielder Josh Lowe, who possesses a fascinating combination of power, speed, and bat-to-ball skills. Lowe can also pay third base.

The possibility of trading Contreras now to net a few quality prospects should be something Hoyer weighs heavily as part of this winter’s strategy. With great organizational depth at catcher highlighted by Miguel Amaya and with a capable backstop in Victor Caratini, the Cubs could pick up a stopgap in free agency. Wilson Ramos or Alex Avila could make sense on one-year deals. Do I dare mention the name Yadier Molina, who may leave St. Louis for the right opportunity?

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Scouting reports, even for someone as talented as Ernie Banks, were pretty basic in 1953. He certainly passed the eye test. What’s surprising is he was scouted 10 times in 1950 and then not again until 1953.

Monday Stove

Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino kept a diary this season and documented what it was like to play baseball in unprecedented times.

These 10 trades could change the balance of power in both the American and National leagues.

A’s infielder Marcus Semien had a poor year compared to his near-MVP 2019 season and could be the player most impacted in free agency by the small sample size of 2020.

Former Cubs shortstop prospect Isaac Paredes, now with the Tigers, is tearing it up in winter ball.

Ozzie Guillén still believes the White Sox made a great choice in hiring Tony La Russa, despite the new skipper’s DUI charge in Arizona earlier this year.

The Yankees remain the favorites to sign free agent second baseman DJ Lemahieu. The Blue Jays and Mets are interested in the second baseman as well.

The Rangers elected not to protect hard throwing reliever Alex Speas in the Rule 5 Draft. Speas reportedly has hit 102 mph consistently with his fastball.

Sliding Into Home

Some of the residual damage I suffered from COVID-19 includes kidney and heart dysfunction and more problems with my right foot. I’ll have more information once I get tests out of the way after Thanksgiving, but please keep me in your thoughts, especially with the kidneys.

Extra Innings

This won’t give you chills. I promise.

They Said It

  • “I’m confident that, even though [Jed Hoyer] has been here, the Cubs are getting the benefit of fresh eyes, so to speak, and that he’ll be a force for continued progress and change within the organization. The last couple years, he’s really jumped in and and enhanced his efforts to be a central part of every discussion in the organization.” – Theo Epstein

Monday Walk Up Song

Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd – It’s Hoyer’s time to shine.

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