Willson Contreras Could be Realistic Trade Option for New York Mets

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The Mets’ chances of landing this star appear to be higher than initially perceived. 

According to sources, the Mets are one of several teams that are in on Cubs impact slugger Willson Contreras, as New York has been engaged with Chicago about their All-Star catcher. 

ESPN’s Jeff Passan, SNY’s Andy Martino and MLB writer (Fantrax and Inside the Mets) Michael Marino have all linked the Mets and Contreras in recent days. 

The Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians are interested in Contreras as well.

However, the 30-year-old won’t come cheap. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the asking price could be in the neighborhood of a team’s top five and top-15 prospect, despite the catcher/DH only being a rental. 

This might wind up being too rich for the Mets’ blood, especially after sending Pete Crow-Armstrong to the Cubs last year for Javier Baez and Trevor Williams. Now MLB Pipeline has Crow-Armstrong, a high-A centerfielder and 2020 first-round pick, as the 77th best prospect in all of baseball. 

That said, the Cubs like Dom Smith and the Mets have significant interest in righty reliever David Robertson, so maybe there’s room for a combo deal. This all depends on which prospects the Mets would have to give up. 

Sources say top ranked prospect Francisco Alvarez would not be in play in a package for Contreras, as expected. The Mets also want to hang onto Brett Baty and Mark Vientos, so that would leave either Ronny Mauricio or Alex Ramirez as potential chips in a hypothetical package. As for another prospect in the top-15, Double-A starter Jose Butto (No. 12 in Mets’ system) is a name that comes to mind. 

So if the Mets are willing to part with a top five prospect, they will likely have to send a minor leaguer in the top-15 to any trade partner, this could see Contreras, and possibly Robertson wind up in Queens. They will be cautious, though, after sending Crow-Armstrong to the Cubs last summer. 

Mets primary catcher James McCann has an oblique injury, but has struggled with the bat, as has defensive whiz Tomas Nido. Contreras seems like an easy replacement, but there are concerns over his framing ability as well as the challenge that would be met in learning a new pitching staff on the fly. But he could serve as a primary DH and occasional catcher. He is the best hitting backstop in baseball, and by not taking a beating behind the dish on a regular basis it could possibly make his bat even more productive. 

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Contreras could catch on certain days, in which the Mets are facing a right-handed starting pitcher, given newest DH acquisition Daniel Vogelbach mashes righties. Contreras also hits lefties better, with an .893 career OPS versus southpaws and a 1.074 OPS in 2022 against them. He is a DH fit in games, where the Mets are opposing a left-handed starter. 

Catcher and DH have been the two biggest holes on the Mets’ offense this season, so having Contreras and Vogelbach would be major upgrades and would lengthen the lineup. 

Contreras and his expiring contract are a lock to get moved by the rebuilding Cubs. He won’t come cheap, but he could come with a high-leverage relief arm in Robertson, who’s in high-demand on the market. 

The Mets still have strong interest in Trey Mancini and C.J. Cron, and are monitoring the availability of Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez. Should Martinez be placed on the trading block, the Mets will be interested, and could potentially pounce at the opportunity to land an impact big bopper. They’re still in on Josh Bell as well, but are currently not the frontrunners to acquire him after making at least one trade offer

For now, Contreras looks like a realistic possibility for the Mets with a week to go until the August trade deadline. 

Read More:

– Mets Focused on Other Options as Josh Bell’s Market Intensifies

– Jacob deGrom to Pitch for Syracuse Before Potential Mets Return

Mets Among Teams Monitoring J.D. Martinez’s Availability

Follow Pat Ragazzo on Twitter (@ragazzoreport), be sure to bookmark Inside The Mets and check back daily for news, analysis and more.