Willson Contreras To Decline Qualifying Deal
Surprisingly, the Cubs did not trade Contreras before the deadline. A deal that would have sent him to Houston was , but it was reportedly scrapped by the Astros' ownership. They instead made the $19.65MM qualifying offer for their long-time catcher. Contreras was always likely to decline the offer. He will now pursue a multi-year contract in free agency.
After his fourth season of 20-plus homers, and 20-plus doubles, Contreras, 30, will enter free agency. In what is likely to be his last season with the Cubs, Contreras, a three-time All Star and 2016 World Series Champion, saw his.243/.346/.466 slash. Chicago had many opportunities to extend Contreras throughout his career, with the player publicly expressing his desire for a second term. Although it never seemed like the team was making a serious effort to sign Contreras, with Yan Gomes a veteran, the Cubs still have at least one option (though they could add another via trade or free agency).
Contreras' defense is a topic of conversation since the trade deadline. However, some of this talk may be a bit exaggerated. It is rare for starting catchers not to be traded before the deadline. It is difficult for any backstop to learn a new staff in the middle of a postseason push. This concern won't be present if Contreras is signed as a free agent. He will have an entire offseason to get used to the new staff.
Contreras has a 30% catch-stealing rate, which is comfortably higher than the league average. He's also known for having the best throwing arm of any catcher. Statcast rates him as the 11th best poptime of any catcher, and also believes that his framing is average or slightly better over the past three years. He was rated at -1 by Defensive Runs saved in 2022, but had a +8 record the year before. Contreras is not an elite defensive backstop. He may also spend more time at DH and other positions over the course of a multiyear contract that stretches into his 30s. He's not a defensive liability, but that doesn't mean he is.
Contreras has rejected the offer of a quarterback, so any team signing him will be required to forfeit at most one draft pick. The international bonus pool for luxury-paying clubs will be reduced by $1MM and their second and fifth highest selections in next years' draft. Non-luxury tax payers and revenue-sharing recipients teams will have to surrender their second-highest selection. Their international pool will be reduced by $500K. Revenue-sharing recipients will only have to give up their third-highest pick. As a team that did not pay the luxury tax or receive revenue sharing, the Cubs would be eligible for a compensatory pick in the next year's draft. This pick would fall between Round B of Competitive Balance and Round 3. It is usually in the No. 75 range.