Report: Astros in discussions with Contreras
Fresh off the signing of Jose Abreu, the Houston Astros are now trying to lure another powerful right-handed bat away from Chicago.
Houston is engaged in discussions with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras and will meet with him at the upcoming winter meetings, a source told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Astros' interest in Contreras is not new. ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier in November that they had a deal to acquire him from the Cubs at this year's trade deadline for pitcher Jose Urquidy, but owner Jim Crane ultimately quashed it. Instead, then-general manager James Click acquired another catcher, Christian Vazquez, from the Boston Red Sox.
Contreras, 30, is a far better bat than Houston's current starting catcher, Martin Maldonado. However, Maldonado is the superior defender and a favorite of many Astros pitchers.
Part of Contreras' appeal to Houston is his positional flexibility, according to Rosenthal. The three-time All-Star has experience playing left field, although he's played just 11 games there since his rookie season. With Minute Maid Park's notoriously small left-field fence, the Astros could theoretically bounce Contreras between left and DH - as they currently do with Yordan Alvarez - when he's not catching.
Because Contreras declined the Cubs' qualifying offer, the Astros would forfeit their second-highest draft pick and $500,000 of international bonus pool money if they sign him.
Contreras posted a .243/.349/.466 slash line with 22 homers, 55 RBIs, and four stolen bases over 113 games with the Cubs in 2022. He owns a lifetime .808 OPS across parts of seven seasons and helped the Cubs win the World Series as a rookie in 2016.
The Detroit Tigers are also reportedly interested in signing Contreras.