The Detroit Tigers are rumored to be interested in the former Cubs backstop
Hot stove season wasted no time getting interesting. Just as I was in the middle of writing a piece about the Tigers and Blue Jays potentially being trade partners, Jon Morosi reported that the Detroit Tigers are interested in former Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Tigers linked to Contreras. Last week, Jon Heyman of The New York Post listed Detroit among the possible destinations for him. Additionally, fans and media alike have been making the connection between Contreras and Scott Harris during Harris’ time with the Cubs.
Contreras is by far the best catcher on the free agent market this offseason. The 30-year-old is coming off his best offensive season, where he hit 22 home runs and put up a 132 wRC+. For a team that desparately needs bats, Contreras would be an excellent addition.
Defensively, Contreras has gotten better as his career has gone on. He had at least 10 errors in every season from 2017-19, but that number has come down signifificantly the past few years. He even put up 8 defensive runs saved in 2021. He also consistently ranks near the top of the league in pop time to second base, and also leads the league in backpicks to first base by a mile. Contreras has great instincts behind the plate.
So what would Contreras cost the Detroit Tigers in terms of money and years? Well that same article from Jon Heyman projects that Contreras will get a four-year, $88 million deal. The years are perfect, but the money may be a little out of the Tigers price range.
On the other hand, Spotrac has Contreras receiving a four-year deal for only $64 million, which would be a perfect deal for the Tigers. A real offer would probably meet somewhere in the middle, however.
Contreras probably wants somewhere close to what J.T Realmuto makes in terms of AAV, which is about $23 million a year. The four-year, $88 million deal projected by Heyman would give him $22 million a year, which is probably around what he’s looking for. Either way, the Detroit Tigers will likely have to pony up for him, which is not a bad thing whatsover.
If the Detroit Tigers really want to compete next season, signing big-name free agents is going to be their best bet. Miguel Cabrera’s $32 million salary will come off the books next season, so they can’t use that as an excuse.
It’s really nice to see the Tigers already being linked to free agents this early in the offseason. There will surely be more rumors if this is any indication.