Could the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs explore an offseason trade that would boost Colorado’s catching corps? That’s the question being asked by MLBTradeRumors in this article, wondering if the Colorado Rockies would be a partner for the Cubs when it comes to finding a new home for catcher Willson Contreras.
On the surface, Contreras coming to the Rockies would be odd timing as Elias Diaz finished the season strong for Colorado. After starting the season slashing .151/.227/.235 through his first 132 plate appearances (through games of June 23), the 30-year-old Diaz would complete the season slashing .246/.310/.464 with 18 home runs (fourth-most on the team) and 44 RBI.
Diaz is thought to be Colorado’s primary catcher heading into next season and is projected by MLBTradeRumors to make $2.6 million in his last year of arbitration before he is scheduled to become a free agent for the 2023 season. Contreras is following the same timeline as Diaz, but is due an expected $8.7 million in arbitration this offseason.
So does a Colorado Rockies-Chicago Cubs trade involving Willson Contreras make sense?
Contreras would certainly be an upgrade for Colorado at catcher, but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking at first glance. If the Rockies were to swing a deal, a Contreras-Diaz combination would be one that would give Colorado one of the best 1-2 punches in the National League when it comes to catchers. That would mean, however, that Dom Nunez is out of the picture, but his pedestrian numbers from last season (.189/.293/.399) could likely be upgraded at a lower cost than bringing in Contreras.
Yes, Contreras would obviously come with a cost. Are the Rockies willing to make a deal at a position where manager Bud Black seems very content heading into next season?
"“For me, he has really proven to be a very solid major league catcher,” Black said in mid-September of Diaz. “There are some good young ones and some veteran catchers around who are very solid. But you can put Diaz in the conversation in a lot of the skill sets.”"
Knowing that the Rockies need to add more power to the lineup, Contreras did hit 21 homers last season. There are, however, other areas where the Rockies could stand to improve (likely replacing shortstop Trevor Story and upgrading the outfield) and resources could be used in a more impactful way at those positions than at catcher.
This is, of course, dependent on that the Cubs are looking to shuffle Contreras. After a season where the Cubs dealt numerous players with high salaries, it’s possible that Contreras would be next. However, it doesn’t seem that the Rockies would be a natural fit, even if the Cubs decide to make Contreras available.