Cubs Sign Willson Contreras Replacement in Free Agency

Tyler Maher
The Chicago Cubs have found a new replacement for Willson Contreras.
The Chicago Cubs have found a new replacement for Willson Contreras. / ASSOCIATED PRESS

It's been a painful couple of weeks for Chicago Cubs fans since All-Star catcher Willson Contreras signed with the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

While that loss still stings, at least now they have some clarity on what Chicago's catching situation will look like next year after the team picked up a new backstop in free agency.

Tucker Barnhart Cubs News

The Cubs reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart on Thursday. The pact also includes a player option for 2024.

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Chicago is familiar with Barnhart from his time with the Cincinnati Reds, where he played from 2014-2021 and won two Gold Glove awards before moving on to the Detroit Tigers. Like the rest of his teammates, Barnhart endured a colossal slump in 2022, slashing .221/.287/.267 with just 1 home run and 16 RBIs in 94 games.

The Cubs are hopeful that a return to the NL Central will help rejuvenate the 31-year-old's performance. The team plans to pair him with former All-Star and Silver Slugger winner Yan Gomes behind the plate, who batted .235/.260/.365 with 8 home runs and 31 RBIs in 86 games for Chicago last year.

Cubs fans are likely disappointed in the team's catching duo, which is a clear downgrade from Contreras. The team would have been better off re-signing Contreras or trading for Sean Murphy, but now the position projects to be an offensive black hole for 2023. Chicago was already 14 games below .500 last season with Contreras, so it's hard to envision the team competing next year without him.