One of the Chicago Cubs’ most glaring issues for over a year has been the absence of a good-hitting outfielder. Their offense cooled down greatly at the end of the regular season and in their brief playoff appearance when they were swept in two games by the Miami Marlins during the NL Wild Card series (the Cubs scored a grand total of one run).
Baseball fans are aware that this wasn’t the best of seasons for the likes of Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and more, but who knows how things would’ve turned out for the Cubs had they had a solid bat in the outfield.
Center fielder Ian Happ did have a breakout year and was the team’s best hitter when the season came to a close, but that wasn’t enough. Happ also became Chicago’s primary leadoff man, but Nimmo is the better option and gives the team much depth in terms of solid offensive outfielders. Nimmo would bolster Chicago’s lineup immensely.
The question becomes: what can the Cubs offer the Mets in return? Let’s start with a name that may come as a surprise to some, catcher Willson Contreras. The 28-year-old, as was previously mentioned, had a down year at the plate but that shouldn’t impact his trade value much.
He’s a two-time All-Star and has a career slash line of .265/.351/.463 with an OPS of .814 and an OPS+ of 113, and has hit 74 home runs and recorded 253 RBI in 493 regular season games. His defense has also improved immensely- in fact, he’s been named as a 2020 Gold Glove finalist.
Contreras has emerged as one of the best catchers in the game and most teams would be thrilled to have someone like him behind the plate. The Mets would be one of those teams.
Wilson Ramos is older, isn’t a good defender, and is coming off a bad offensive year. Now that Steve Cohen is taking over, it’s believed that he might look to acquire a catcher. Contreras would be the perfect fit.
He would bring great defense to a team that needs it and bringing him in would add a very productive bat to an already stacked lineup. He’s also under team control through the 2022 season, which is perfect for the Mets.
Francisco Alvarez, the Mets’ second overall prospect and their best catching prospect, is expected to be ready for the majors by 2023. In this scenario, Contreras would be a solution to a serious issue and the Mets wouldn’t have to worry about paying him as he approaches free agency.
Another potential (but more unlikely) candidate is reliever Craig Kimbrel. The 32-year-old had a rough start to the shortened season but finished on a high note. In the month of September, Kimbrel pitched 15.1 innings and allowed zero runs and three hits while striking out 13 and walking zero. Kimbrel is signed through 2022 and is set to make $16 million a year.
New York’s bullpen had a rough start to the season and was actually one of the worst in the league, but the relievers were able to get it together and finished the season on a very high note. The addition of one or two high-end arms would certainly make it one of the very best bullpens in the league.
Edwin Diaz had a nice comeback season and the Mets will have an embarrassment of riches given the opportunity to use both Diaz and Kimbrel. That would make for an incredibly dangerous setup man-closer duo.