The significance of Willson Contreras’ arbitration agreement for the Cubs’ future

The Chicago Cubs and catcher Willson Contreras reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Is this a foreshadowing of things to come?

The Chicago Cubs and Willson Contreras avoided arbitration. According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the two parties have reached an agreement that will pay the Cubs’ catcher $9.625 million this season.

As Rogers points out, the compensation is exactly in the middle of what the two sides discussed earlier this offseason. The Cubs had offered $9 million, but Contreras wanted $10.25 million. Could this be a positive omen for Cubs supporters expecting Contreras to sign a long-term deal?

Will the Cubs and Willson Contreras be able to reach an agreement on a long-term contract?

Willson Contreras is the last surviving member of the Chicago Cubs’ core that brought the Windy City a World Series triumph for the first time in over a century.

Contreras, along with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez, broke the curse in 2016 by defeating the Cleveland Indians, now known as the Cleveland Guardians, in the World Series.

Except for Contreras, the Cubs decided to cull their roster of all their elite players last summer. Rizzo was traded to the New York Yankees, Bryant was traded to the San Francisco Giants, and Javier Baez was traded to the New York Mets and spent the rest of the season in the Big Apple.

The Cubs, on the other hand, kept Willson Contreras and had no intention of trading him this winter. Instead, Chicago landed All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman and a hefty contract for Seiya Suzuki.

So, are the North Siders attempting to compete, or are they attempting to rebuild? Chicago’s front office may be trying to find a way to compete this season while still hoping to make the playoffs in 2023.

If that’s the case, the Cubs should try to sign Willson Contreras to a long-term deal right away. There isn’t a single player in the Chicago farm system who can equal Contreras’ on-field output.

Contreras is the best free agent catcher available this offseason. Omar Narvaez or Tucker Barnhart are the next best catchers, but neither can equal what Contreras brings to the table.

Contreras’ re-signing by the Cubs will not be cheap. Their southern neighbors are fully aware of the high cost of an offensive-minded catcher. Prior to the 2020 season, the Chicago White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract. That’s most likely an excellent place to begin.

At the very least, the Chicago Cubs and Willson Contreras can officially put the dreaded arbitration process behind them. Will the two parties continue to negotiate during the season? Will the Cubs try to deal with Contreras before the deadline on Aug. 2? Both are excellent questions, and we’ll have to wait for answers.