Colorado Rockies: Making sense of a Chicago Cubs-Nolan Arenado trade
Willson Contreras, Catcher
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of Rockies fan salivating at the idea of having a catcher who can provide positive value at the plate.
To date, the most fWAR a catcher has accumulated with the Rockies is 4.0 from Jeff Reed from 1996-1999. It’s a dramatically sad list after that and it needs a huge uplift.
In 2019, Contreras put up an fWAR of 2.7. Outside of a bad 2018, he’s put up fWARs of 2.5 and 2.4. So if the Rockies could trade for Contreras, and he put up his average fWAR numbers then he’d be the Rockies greatest catcher ever after two seasons. Yup.
His wRC+ in 2019 was 127, a career high but in line with similar numbers from 2016 and 2017. His pop time, per Statcast, ranks in the 96th percentile while his Framing ranks dead in the middle in the 50th percentile. Both of those rank better than Wolters in 2019 (77th and 15th percentiles respectively).
Contreras would be a great primary catcher while Wolters would go back into a secondary role, which should fit him better. He caught in a career high 121 games last season (a career high by nearly 40 games) and that likely took a huge toll on him over the season (his wRC+ in the first half of the season was 76 while in the second half it dropped to 44). That reduced workload would ideally help him too.
As far as Contreras’ contract, he has two more years of arbitration left before he’s a free agent after the 2022 season. He’s making $4.5M this season and would be a more than worthy addition to the Rockies.
With him and Bryant coming over, and assuming the Rockies don’t pay any of Arenado’s salary, that would be up to $23.1M in salary for the Rockies vs the $35M that would be going on to the Cubs. But now the value coming back to the Rockies with both Bryant and Contreras would be more than what the Cubs are getting back.
So what do the Rockies need to do to make this even?