Willson Contreras

Willson Contreras, expert at going viral, tells hilarious profanity-laced story from 2019

Willson Contreras, expert at going viral, tells hilarious profanity-laced story from 2019

Willson Contreras and viral moments at Cubs Convention go hand-in-hand.

At the team’s annual fan festival in 2018, Contreras stole the show with a story from the 2017 season. During a mound visit against the Cardinals, the Cubs catcher gave profanity-laced advice to Jon Lester, the Cubs starter who rarely throws pickoffs due to a serious case of the yips.

"I went out there and I said, 'Hey motherf--ker, throw the f--king ball to first,'” Contreras recalled in January 2018.

Contreras stole the show again Saturday, telling a story about a moment against the Cardinals — this time from the 2019 season.

“So last year, we were facing the Cardinals and I started talking to [Marcell] Ozuna,” Contreras said. “He told me ‘Just call a fastball right down the middle.’ [And I said] ‘Yeah okay, I will.’ Then I called the fastball and he took it.

“I told him ‘What the f— are you talking about? Just hit the ball, just hit it.’

“He asked me ‘Just call it again.’ And I did it. He took it. Swing the [bat]. I called a third pitch and it was a strikeout. And then next time it was like just ‘Shut up,” or something."

Warning: graphic language

How Contreras will top this at 2021 Cubs Convention is uncertain, but considering he now has two viral moments on his resume, we can be sure the next one will be just as amazing.

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Summing up Cubs arbitration deals and what it means for the budget

Summing up Cubs arbitration deals and what it means for the budget

Friday was the deadline for clubs to reach an agreement with players prior to arbitration and with it came a clearer picture of the Cubs' financial situation.

The first nugget dropped just before noon when the Cubs reached a one-year, $18.6 million deal with Kris Bryant, avoiding an arbitration hearing. 

The other players followed:

Javy Baez — $10 million
Kyle Schwarber — $7,010,000
Willson Contreras — $4.5 million
Albert Almora Jr. — $1.575 million
Kyle Ryan — $975,000

That accounts for all the arbitration-eligible players, with the Cubs shelling out $42.66 million to the group. 

At the beginning of the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors projected the figures for each player as such:

Bryant — $18.5 million
Baez — $9.3 million
Schwarber — $8 million
Contreras — $4.5 million
Almora — $1.8 million
Ryan — $1.1 million

Total: $43.2 million

It's not technically money "saved," but it does help the Cubs ever-so-slightly in their attempts to get under the luxury tax threshold for 2020. Right now, they are projected for about a $214 million luxury tax payroll (according to RosterResource.com), which is roughly $6 million over the $208 million threshold.

Theo Epstein's front office has not been very active this winter in adding to the roster, making only minor-league signings and a couple of non-guaranteed major-league contracts for relievers Ryan Tepera and Dan Winkler. The Cubs avoided arbitration with newly-acquired pitcher Jharel Cotton in December by reaching an agreement on a one-year, $640,000 deal.

The Cubs went over the luxury tax in 2019 and the penalties would be more severe if they go over again this season. In order to get back under the threshold, Epstein and Co. would need to shed salary via trade. That (obviously) hasn't happened yet, but there is still more than a month before Cubs pitchers and catchers report to spring training and the trade could always come in-season, too.

Friday's deals bring the Cubs one step closer to knowing what their Opening Day roster looks like but overall, it hardly makes a dent in freeing up resources to add to the big-league team.

Another rumor connects Cubs to superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado


Another rumor connects Cubs to superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado

Make that two reputable MLB insiders connecting the Cubs to Rockies superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Last Thursday, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported the Cubs “loom as a possible suitor” for Arenado, should the North Siders deal Kris Bryant this winter. ESPN’s Jeff Passan took that idea a step further on Tuesday.

According to Passan, two teams have particularly intrigued the Rockies as they search for Arenado trade partners: The Cardinals and Cubs. From Passan’s report:

The Cubs would make sense if they move Bryant. They are not primed for some sort of a rebuild as much as a refresh or reboot -- an always-difficult needle to thread, particularly if they hope to dip under the luxury-tax threshold. One source characterized the Cubs as doing due diligence, as they've done throughout the winter with myriad trade conversations, but the notion of trading catcher Willson Contreras and a higher-priced, underperforming player in an Arenado deal, then flipping Bryant to revitalize a mediocre farm system, squares in the short and long term. The Nationals' best trade piece, middle infielder Carter Kieboom, would be a perfect anchor for a Bryant deal if the Cubs didn't already have Javier Baez at shortstop and rookie Nico Hoerner at second base.

Passan isn’t reporting the Cubs have had any conversations regarding Arenado. Furthermore, his mentioning of Willson Contreras and “a higher-priced, underperforming player” is completely hypothetical and merely an idea of what a Cubs-Rockies Arenado deal could look like.

But let’s say the hypothetical became reality.

Based on Passan’s speculation, the Cubs could try and include Jason Heyward with Contreras in an Arenado package. Heyward hasn’t performed at a consistently high level offensively after signing a lucrative eight-year deal with the Cubs in December 2015. However, he posted Cubs career-highs last season (.343 OBP, 21 home runs, 62 RBIs, 101 wRC+, .328 wOBA) all while playing stellar defense in right field (7 Defensive Runs Saved).

Arenado is under contract through 2026 for $234 million. Heyward is under contract through 2023 for $86 million. Contreras is under contract through 2022, but he’s in arbitration and is only projected to make $4.5 million in 2020.

The money wouldn’t match up in an Arenado for Heyward and Contreras deal. However, acquiring Arenado would give the Cubs a cost-controlled third baseman, all while netting the Cubs prospects in exchange for Bryant to replenish their farm system.

A couple quick caveats:

-The Rockies are 50-50 on dealing Arenado, per Morosi’s report, meaning a deal is far from guaranteed. Plus, Colorado may seek more for Arenado — a five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner — than just Contreras and Heyward. 

-Arenado has an opt-out after 2021. If the Cubs acquired him, they could find themseleves in a similar position as they are now with Bryant, whose situation is also complicated due to his ongoing service time grievance. Bryant is under contract through 2021, but he'll become a free agent after 2020 if he wins his grievance, taking away some of his trade value.

-The Cubs are in a position where they need to gain prospects rather than trade any. If the Rockies seek minor-league pieces in a deal, that would likely take the Cubs out of the running for Arenado.

-Although the Cubs would land Arenado, they’d lose their starting right fielder and catcher, in this hypothetical scenario. Victor Caratini would assume the starting catcher position if Contreras is dealt, but right field would still be a question mark.

Arenado will make $35 million in 2020 compared to the combined $44 million Heyward, Contreras and Bryant will make — using the latter two's arbitration estimates. The Cubs could use that $9 million in savings on a right fielder, though the best available options — such as Nick Castellanos — will come at higher price tags. Plus, the Cubs have other needs to address, like the bullpen.

There is a scenario where the Cubs could acquire Arenado, but a lot of moving parts would be involved to make a deal come to fruition.

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