The St. Louis Cardinals set their sights on Willson Contreras from the very beginning of MLB free agency, and the mission has officially been accomplished.
On Wednesday, ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan was one of the first to report that the National League Central champions and the Chicago Cubs All-Star had come to terms on a deal that will make him one of the highest-paid catchers in the sport.
“Catcher Willson Contreras and the St. Louis Cardinals are in agreement on a five-year, $87.5 million contract, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN.”– Details of Contreras and Cardinals deal
Related: MLB free agent tracker – Aaron Judge returns to Yankees
The agreement will mean an average annual salary of $17.5 million. That only puts him behind J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies ($23.9 million), Salvador Perez of the Royals ($20 million), and White Sox backstop Yasmani Grandal ($18.3 million).
Willson Contreras will fill a big void on St. Louis Cardinals roster
The St. Louis Cardinals signing Willson Contreras is not only a great move because they add a three-time All-Star to an already strong roster, as well as hurt a rival team in the Chicago Cubs, but the 30-year-old fills a massive hole heading into the 2023 season.
- Willson Contreras stats (2022): .243 AVG, .349 OBP, .466 SLG, 22 HR, 55 RBI, 65 R
After 19 seasons and 10 All-Star appearances, Cardinals legend Yadier Molina chose to retire following the season. His decision to begin his walk into the sunset and eventually the baseball Hall-of-Fame left an extremely hard-to-fill void on the roster. Elite-level catchers are always at a premium and are hard to come by.
However, St. Louis was able to replace a key member of their 2022 roster with a player who can put up better offensive stats and is in the prime of his career. While there will certainly be a decline on the defensive end, Contreras is a proven backstop who also has championship experience as a member of the Cubs 2016 World Series champion squad.