Catcher Willson Contreras will be the latest highly-rated prospect to receive a call-up from the Chicago Cubs.
No corresponding move has been made known as of yet, but Rosenthal mentioned the plan is for the Cubs to keep three catchers on the major league roster. Contreras will join Miguel Montero and veteran David Ross, with Tim Federowicz being the odd man out.
The 24-year-old prospect is tearing it up in the minors, sporting a slash line of .350/.439/.591 with nine home runs and 43 RBI over 54 games.
When looking further at Contreras’ statistics, there is more to be excited about. His isolated power is at .240, just under what Fangraphs labels as excellent (.250). Not only that, but his 176 wRC+ is much higher than what is considered excellent (160).
Almost every hitting statistic is around what Fangraphs labels as excellent or higher. Contreras is a great hitter and he is crushing Triple-A pitching, making it seem like his talent will translate over to the majors as well.
The decision to call up Contreras is a bit puzzling considering that the team already has two everyday starting catchers on the roster.
Montero has struggled, hitting .210/.333/.343 with three home runs and 15 RBI. However, he is getting paid $14 million both this and next year. That is too much money for the Cubs to have sitting on the bench.
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As for Ross, the 39-year-old has hit .237/.339/.409 with four home runs and 20 RBI. He is only worth $2.5 million and will hit free agency at the end of the year.
Ross could be moved to another team in need of a catcher, but that means the Cubs will lose a 15-year veteran who is an above average defensive backstop, as seen by his DEF. According to Fangraphs, above average DEF is +4 and Ross currently sits at +6.2.
That puts Contreras in an awkward spot. While Contreras is hitting the cover off the ball in the minors and deserves a promotion, not being an everyday catcher could hurt his growth.
The move can come with a plus, however. Contreras will learn under Montero and Ross, both of whom have tons of experience as a major league backstop. Being around these veterans and a successful big league club like Chicago’s (MLB-leading 44 wins) will allow Contreras to gain major league and playoff experience for when he does become an everyday catcher.
Chicago has finally taken the next step and can be considered favorites to win the World Series this season. Adding a third catcher who is hitting .350 at the minors summarizes how dominant the team and its top prospects have been as a whole in 2016. Contreras will see at-bats here and there, but barring any injuries to Montero and Ross, the rookie will be taking notes and learning in 2016.