Braves: Could Willson Contreras be a trade target?

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I wrote about uniting the Contreras brothers in Atlanta a little over a year ago today, and now the Cubs are reportedly “very open” to trading their cornerstone backstop. Here’s a short excerpt from the 2019 piece: 

 

2016: .282/.357/.488/.845, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 37% CS (World Series Champion)

2017: .276/.356/.499/.855, 21 HR, 74 RBI, 27% CS

2018: .249/.339/.390/.730, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 34% CS (All-Star)

2019: .272/.355/.533/.888, 24 HR, 64 RBI, 29% CS (All-Star)

William is currently in Mississippi and coming off another solid season. His numbers are strikingly similar to his big brother Willson’s, and he’ll probably get his first cup of coffee in the majors in 2021. So for a one year bridge, the Braves already have Tyler Flowers on the payroll for $4 million. He’ll be gone after 2020, and if William plays well enough, Atlanta will feature two Contreras brothers behind the plate. Chemistry is so important in baseball, especially when catching. Having two guys who will always be on the same page and can connect with a pitching staff would be a big help in developing these young arms.

William arrived a lot sooner than expected. He made his major-league debut last season. Albeit, it was more out of necessity; however, the youngster proved he’s much further along offensively than he was when the 2019 season ended. The younger Contreras had four hits in his ten major league at-bats and also turned heads at the alternate training site with his refined approach in the batter’s box. 

As it stands, Tyler Flowers has not been re-signed. Atlanta still has another year of Travis d’Arnaud on the cheap, who has become an amazing signing and is undoubtedly a fan favorite. The DH plays into this a LOT, but if the DH is here to stay — Contreras becomes more interesting. He can play both corner outfield spots, and he had a fine shortened 2020.

 

Willson Contreras 2020: .243/.356/.407/.763, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 35% CS

 

Willson remains a defensive force behind the plate, and his presence would greatly benefit a young staff. Carrying three excellent catchers could be tricky, but William is best-suited to begin the year in Gwinnett, and d’Arnaud only has one year left on his current contract. Shea Langeliers is another factor to consider, but he could be the centerpiece of this hypothetical deal. So how does Willson’s contract situation look?

Willson is in his second year of arbitration, which means he has one more year of team control. He would provide a defensive presence behind the plate that Atlanta has been missing for a while, and a battery of Contreras-Travis d’Arnaud would be the best offensive tandem in baseball behind the dish. Prospect capital would be steep, but Atlanta easily has the assets to make a trade work. It’s also worth considering that Contreras would likely be inclined to sign an extension for 2023 and beyond with a contender that employs his little brother. This may be a long shot, and Atlanta has more pressing needs — but with the DH in question and Willson’s ability to play left field, I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex Anthopoulos was on the phone with Jed Hoyer & Co.

 

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