The market for the top free agent catcher continues to come into view. This is reported by Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago Willson Contreras received tentative multi-year offers from both the Cardinals and Astros at this week’s winter meetings. According to Wittenmyer, a third team also made an offer, although the identity of that club is unknown (but is said to be neither Boston nor Tampa Bay). St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold characterizes the discussions as more informal as the team also juggles trading opportunities, but notes that the possibility of a multi-year offering was discussed.
Both St. Louis and Houston have been linked with Contreras on numerous occasions during the offseason, but it’s still notable that these teams have proposals on the table. MLB.com’s John Denton reports (Twitter link) that a fourth year could be an obstacle in Contreras’ talks with St. Louis. According to Denton, the Cards are poised to meet the three-time All-Star’s asking price on an annualized basis, but are reluctant to go beyond three seasons. Whether another team is putting a fourth year on the table isn’t clear, though Wittenmyer adds that no team has been willing to go five years so far.
St. Louis skipper Oliver Marmol confirmed reports that the Cards would sit down with Contreras at the winter meetings. good has recommended The team’s preferred solution is to purchase A’s backstop Sean Murphy, although that would require giving up highly regarded young talent — and the A’s are reportedly looking for MLB-eligible players in return. It’s perhaps no coincidence that Belleville News-Democrat Jeff Jones tweets There’s a growing sense that the Cardinals could find their new catcher at liberty, and he characterizes Contreras as the most likely target in this scenario.
Astros’ interest in Contreras dates back to the trade deadline, but owner Jim Crane has turned down an agreed swap that would have brought him in from Chicago. It seems they are less concerned about him getting used to a new pitching baton with an offseason than if he were added in the middle of a pennant race, and the multi-year proposals on the table reflect that. Houston has Martin Maldonado as the most important backstop currently, and contreras are expected to rotate between catcher, left field, and designated hitter as they strike a deal.
At the end of the season, the 30-year-old turned down a qualifying offer from the Cubs. He would cost any signing team at least one draft pick, while the Cubs would receive draft indemnity in the highly likely event that he departs. MLBTR predicted a four-year, $84 million deal for Contreras at the start of the offseason.