Willson Contreras wants to remain a Chicago Cub.
“This is my house, and it’s been my home for 14 years,” the catcher said Sunday in St. Louis.
Cubs fans want Contreras to get his extension. He arguably is their most popular player and on his way to his third National League start in the All-Star Game.
Team President Jed Hoyer has done nothing but praise Contreras’ play and leadership. During a Q&A with season ticket holders Monday, Hoyer said “everyone loves the way he plays, with so much energy and passion, and he is having a great year.”
Yet consensus opinion is that Contreras will be dealt by the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
It makes no sense to lose your most valuable asset without getting multiple players in return, and last season’s sell-off proved no one is untouchable under Hoyer. It doesn’t have to be that way.
If Contreras desperately wants to stay, he should order his agent to get something done before the deadline and sign an extension. Lance Lynn did exactly that last year with the White Sox.
It might not be what Contreras would get on the open market, but certainly Hoyer would make Contreras among the highest-paid catchers in the game. He definitely is one of the best hitting catchers, but not among the top defensively.
Lynn aside, it’s rare that a player signs only a few months from hitting free agency. So if Contreras desires to test free agency after the season, as is his right, Hoyer needs to do what’s best for the organization and deal him. It’s that simple. Better to get something more than a draft pick for a player of Contreras’ talent.
But Freddie Freeman’s departure from the Atlanta Braves in March could serve as a cautionary tale for Contreras, or any pending free agent for that matter. Pay attention to what your agent is doing.