The Angels are making a bid to reunite manager Joe Maddon with his World Series winning backstop in Chicago Willson Contreras, writes the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. No deal is imminent, but the match is certain to raise a few eyebrows because of the potential fit between the two clubs. Given the recent return for ace Yu Darvish, the Cubbies would seem interested in restocking a thin farm system (though it’s possible they consider that box now checked). The Angels, conversely, have a clear need for some gravitas behind the plate and an earnest desire to win now.
For Los Angeles, Max Stassi may miss the beginning of the season, and neither he nor Anthony Bemboom are established regulars. They made a run at James McCann earlier this offseason before he signed with the Mets. Contreras would be a huge upgrade as an elite offensive catcher who has continued to find his way defensively. He earned 2 runs from extra strikes in 2020 while averaging the second fastest poptime among all catchers. His arm also profiles as above-average, if a tad error-prone in the past. Contreras caught 35% of would-be base-stealers in 2020, well above the league average of 25%.
With two years of team control remaining, the two-time All-Star catcher may be the Cubs’ best available trade chip, however, which could slow any trade talks as they look to milk the most out of any return. He’s a firestarter, fan favorite, and a leader of the team. Besides, having sent Victor Caratini to San Diego as part of the Darvish deal, moving Contreras would also leave them imperiled at the catching spot. The organization likely views Miguel Amaya as a future starting catcher, but he’s not likely to open 2021 with the Major League team. Likewise, Ethan Hearn and Ronnier Quintero are interesting prospects, but neither has played about Rookie Ball. Contreras and the 21-year-old Amaya are the only catchers currently on the Cubs 40-man roster.