Way too early Mets trade target: Does Willson Contreras make sense?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Two
Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Two / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

Although the New York Mets won’t be making a trade with the Chicago Cubs anytime soon for Willson Contreras, we always have the future to think about. As much as pitchers may enjoy and trust throwing to Tomas Nido, if he’s not hitting and neither is James McCann, the Mets may need to do something drastic at the catcher spot.

Contreras is a free agent after this season and likely not signing an extension with Chicago anytime soon. He has been a consistent hitter for the Cubs since debuting back in 2016. Although he is not a Gold Glove candidate, he has decent defensive numbers with positive WAR seasons often in his career and other plus metrics as well.

The Cubs are going nowhere this year. Do the Mets make another swing with Chicago for a big bat at this year’s trade deadline?

The Mets will need to overpay to rent Willson Contreras for two months

It’s the Javier Baez trade all over again. Last summer, the Mets were able to pick him and Trevor Williams up from the Cubs in exchange for only 2020 first-round draft pick Pete Crow-Armstrong—an outfielder who FanSided’s Robert Murray recently praised as a future possible star.

The Mets would most likely be in the market to only rent Contreras for those final two months. Their number one prospect, Francisco Alvarez, is probably on his way to the big leagues in late 2023 or sometime in 2024. It wouldn’t make sense to keep Contreras around given his trajectory.

With this in mind, the idea of trading for Contreras feels slimmer because of the competition. In the same city as the Mets, the New York Yankees could have a growing need to acquire him from the Cubs. They are getting very little production out of their catchers and could have a great desire to lock him up for a couple of years. Other teams in need of a catcher upgrade could feel the same way.

McCann’s contract shouldn’t get in the way of the Mets pulling off any move like this. Even if he has to take a backseat and become the backup for some time, this front office seems eager to capitalize on their opportunity in 2022 to win it all.

From a bigger picture perspective, Contreras just doesn’t seem like a true fit for the Mets outside of a more devastating injury to McCann than the current one or even Nido. However, one consideration could always be to use him often as a DH if the team was to move on from J.D. Davis and/or Dominic Smith. They could always demote either of them to the minor leagues. Contreras could start regularly for the Mets behind the plate and keep his bat in the lineup for DH duties as well.

It doesn’t exactly solve the issue. The Mets would be stuck carrying three catchers which is never wise. As much as Contreras would boost the weakest offensive position on the Mets, the same is true for too many other teams. Between the competition and what it means for the rest of the roster, any assets the Mets do trade away for a bat might be better served with someone else.

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