SAN DIEGO – A longtime rival will be the next heir to Yadier Molina as the starting catcher of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Free agent Willson Contreras has agreed to a five-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings. Multiple reports from The Athletic, MLB Network and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have reported on the agreement. FOX 2 is working to confirm with a source.
Contreras, a three-time All Star, just wrapped up his seventh season with the Chicago Cubs. He has slugged 20 home runs in the catcher’s spot four times, showing off rare pop out of the position. Contreras has also averaged 18.5 base runners caught stealing per season and has logged at least 800 innings per season five times.
In his rookie season, Contreras guided Cubs pitchers to a 2016 World Series title. He brings more than 350 games worth of experience against NL Central opponents. At 30 years old, he remained an intriguing option for the Cardinals due to his consistent production and experience.
For the first time since 2005, someone other than Yadier Molina will be handling primary catching duties for the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s a focal point that Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak wanted to address for good by the end of the Winter Meetings, and Contreras looks to be the answer for the next several years.
The Cardinals also had some interest in trading for Athletics catcher Sean Murphy and signing two-time World Series champion Christian Vazquez, but opted for a backstop well familiar with the division.
This is a developing story. Check back for more updates from FOX 2.