(670 The Score) In a shocking turn of events, the Cubs didn’t deal All-Star catcher Willson Contreras as the trade deadline passed Tuesday at 5 p.m.
For months, it had felt inevitable that the Cubs would trade Contreras as they’ve failed to make progress in contract extension discussions while he’s in the final season of his deal. Contreras himself had appeared resigned to his fate in recent days, admitting the speculation had taken a mental toll on him.
“I just want this to be over,” Contreras told reporters after the Cubs’ loss to the Giants on Sunday night.
The trade speculation is indeed over for the time being, but Contreras’ saga in Chicago isn’t quite yet. By keeping the 30-year-old Contreras, the Cubs bought more time to reach a long-term extension with him and – perhaps more meaningfully – retained the ability to extend a qualifying offer to him after the season and then get a compensatory draft pick in return should he leave in free agency.
To date, the Cubs haven’t seemed inclined to make Contreras a long-term offer, so that dynamic would need to shift significantly in the coming months for him to remain with the organization past 2022. The sides haven't had meaningful extension discussions in years, Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported Tuesday.
For now, Contreras remains the longest-tenured player in the Cubs’ organization, having signed out of his native Venezuela in 2009. He ascended to the big leagues in 2016 and though he split playing time initially, he played a key role in the Cubs breaking their 108-year championship drought.
Through the years, Contreras has become a fan favorite because of his superb performance and fiery, exuberant demeanor. He's a three-time All-Star, including earning that honor this season.
Contreras is hitting .252 with 14 homers, 38 RBIs and an .818 OPS in 86 games in 2022.
The Cubs on Tuesday also held onto All-Star outfielder Ian Happ, who had landed in trade rumors. Unlike Contreras, Happ is under team control through 2023, giving the Cubs more time to sign him to a long-term extension.
The Cubs did trade relievers David Robertson, Mychal Givens, Scott Effross and Chris Martin in recent days.