SAN DIEGO — There are multiple directions that the St. Louis Cardinals could go this offseason as the franchise looks to replace Yadier Molina behind the plate. Included in those options is signing longtime rival Willson Contreras and exchanging his Cubbie blue for Cardinal red.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings here in San Diego, St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol gushed about one quality in particular that the 30-year-old catcher might bring to the Gateway City if the Cardinals are able to sign him this offseason.
Rumors: What could be a differentiator for the St. Louis Cardinals with Willson Contreras
Bounced in the Wild Card round of the MLB postseason by the eventual National League champion Philadelphia Phillies, this October was another in a series of postseason disappointments for the Cardinals, a team that hasn’t won a postseason series since 2019 and hasn’t competed in a World Series since 2013. Could Contreras, who has a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs, help change that? Marmol see Contreras as “a guy that loves to win,” perhaps adding to a clubhouse that is in desperate need of postseason victories.
“And earlier we talked about loving winning, and this is a guy that loves to win, who wakes up thinking about it, goes to sleep thinking about it,” Marmol said. “And we’ve seen quite a bit across the way. And it’s a guy you don’t want to compete against because you know he’s pretty good. So, yeah, he’s a great competitor. And we respect his game.”
That “game” included posting a 128 OPS+ last season as he slashed .243/.349/.466 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI. The home runs would have been the fourth-highest on the Cardinals last season while they were second on the Cubs (behind Patrick Wisdom’s 25).
Marmol said that recent conversations with Contreras have given him greater insight into the catcher that he only saw across the diamond in a bitter NL Central rivalry.
“When you set aside everything from a competitive seeing him across the way, just having conversations with him, learning what kind of drives him, what motivates him, and what he’s looking for moving forward, it’s telling,” Marmol said. “Yes, we enjoy everything.”
Will Contreras sign with the Cardinals? It’s reported that both St. Louis and the Houston Astros have submitted multi-year offers to him, so the chase is heating up for the catcher. And is that winning attitude enough of a separator for the Cardinals that they would be willing to outbid the Astros and other teams?
And will the Cardinals spend their money at catcher rather than other positions? There are plenty of rumors swirling about which way St. Louis may go this offseason, including landing a big-name shortstop.