Friday was a sad day for Chicago Cubs fans as the St. Louis Cardinals officially welcomed All-Star catcher Willson Contreras aboard. Losing a franchise cornerstone is never fun, but it hurts even more when you lose one to a division rival.
The Cubs thanked Contreras for his service with a heartfelt tribute on Twitter.
Willson Contreras News
Contreras is moving on from Chicago after spending 14 seasons with the organization. He signed with the Cubs as an international free agent out of Venezuela at age 17 in 2009, working his way through the system before making his MLB debut in 2016.
It was perfect timing for both the team and the player. Contreras provided an instant spark for Chicago, batting .282/.357/.488 with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs in 76 games as a rookie that year. His production behind the plate helped the Cubs end their 108-year championship drought with a World Series title that fall.
Contreras spent the next half-decade establishing himself as one of the best catchers in baseball, making three All-Star teams and leading Chicago to several more playoff appearances. With the team now in rebuilding mode and the Cardinals coming off a division title, he was ready for a change of scenery.
The 30-year-old backstop has big shoes to fill in St. Louis, however, where he has the unenviable task of replacing Yadier Molina behind the plate. Molina retired this offseason after 19 seasons with the Cardinals, calling it quits on what could end up being a Hall-of-Fame career.
Based on Contreras' stellar track record with Chicago, it sounds like St. Louis found the perfect replacement.