With Willson Contreras scheduled to reach free agency next month, the Chicago Cubs are already making preparations for how to handle the situation.
According to Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, the team plans to extend him a qualifying offer.
Willson Contreras News
A qualifying offer is a one-year contract with a set value that any team can extend to one of its players becoming a free agent. The value is the average of the top 125 player salaries in the sport, which was $18.4 million in 2021. The figure might be a bit higher in 2022, perhaps closer to or above $19 million.
Qualifying offers tend to be rejected more often than not, as players want to test free agency in the hopes of acquiring much larger multi-year deals. If the player signs with another team, his old team receives a compensation draft pick from his new team. In that sense, a qualifying offer acts as a safety net in the event of a star player leaving.
Given that he's only 30 years old and is coming off his third All-Star selection, Contreras is expected to reject Chicago's qualifying offer, especially after his latest comments. He's already been linked to the St. Louis Cardinals and will likely have plenty of suitors as the top free agent at a thin (but vital) position.
The Cubs can still try to re-sign Contreras if he turns down the qualifying offer, but they'll have to compete with and bid against other teams to do so. A player of his caliber will be difficult to replace, and many Chicago fans would rather have him than a draft pick who may never reach the majors.