Sources: Cardinals finalizing five-year deal with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras

Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Baseball

SAN DIEGO — The catcher who wanted a chance to sell the Cardinals on his ability to follow Yadier Molina behind the plate at Busch Stadium will get that chance.

The Cardinals have an agreement in place with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, multiple sources told the Post-Dispatch.

Deterred by the ongoing asking price for the top catcher available via trade, the Cardinals pivoted this week to Contreras, the former Cub and three-time All-Star who had a compelling in-person meeting with Cardinals officials last season. The Cardinals had discussed a deal of no more than four years with the catcher before inching it up to five years and besting Houston's bid.

The Cardinals and Contreras are finalizing a five-year, $87.5 million deal. The contract is pending a physical, and the Cardinals brass did not expect to announce or acknowledge the contract before leaving San Diego on Thursday.

Contreras will be the Cardinals everyday catcher and likely bat fifth in the lineup as manager Oliver Marmol sketched it out Tuesday.

The move for Contreras means the Cardinals are unlikely to pursue a free-agent shortstop like Dansby Swanson. The Cardinals' interest in him was based on the potential of trading for a catcher.


The Cardinals' contract with Contreras is the largest ever finalized by a free agent who has not previously been with the team.

Contreras hit .243 with a .349 on-base percentage and a .466 slugging percentage this past season for the Cubs. He hit 22 home runs and drove home 55 RBIs in 113 games. Contreras started 72 games at catcher and saw 39 for the Cubs at designated hitter. In seven years with the Cubs, he started more than a 100 games at catcher only twice.

Contreras received a qualifying offer from the Cubs, so signing him will cost the Cardinals their second-highest pick in the 2023 draft and $500,000 lopped off their international scouting budget.

Cardinals officials met personally with Contreras in Orlando, Fla., this past week, and their comments about that meeting and more about their interest in Contreras first appeared at on Tuesday night and in the Wednesday pages of the Post-Dispatch.

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