2022 Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight: Willson Contreras And His Trade Deadline Outlook
Published: Jul 25, 2022
Updated: Jul 24, 2022
Now that the MLB All-Star Game has come and gone, fantasy baseball managers now have Major League Baseball’s Trade Deadline as the next bridge to cross on the schedule. Over the next week, several teams will be looking to improve their rosters ahead of the postseason while others will sell off their best players to acquire assets. The Chicago Cubs are in no position to compete in 2022 so it’s likely they’re sellers at the deadline. If you caught the latest July Fantasy Baseball Rankings, you will have seen Willson Contreras as the top-ranked catcher in fantasy baseball. Contreras is a piece that is likely to be moved. A few weeks ago, MLB Trade Rumors published an article highlighting the top 50 players to be moved at the deadline, and the Cubs backstop topped the list a number one.
Willson Contreras has had a phenomenal season. Entering Sunday, Contreras was slashing .258/.372/.471 with 14 home runs, 50 runs scored, and 37 RBI. He’s pretty much been on par with what we’ve seen in previous seasons, perhaps a little better. The big thing for Contreras is that his power numbers are very elite so far in 2022.
Voila! The max exit velocity, average exit velocity, hard hit rate, xwOBA, xSLG, etc. are all looking great. His strikeout rate may not jump off the page, but in his career he’s struck out at a 24.2% clip but in 2022 that number is down to 21.8% so he’s been working and improving on the plate discipline.
In fantasy baseball drafts the catcher position is one where you have to invest early in catchers such as Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, and Will Smith. Or you’re waiting until later on in the draft to hopefully find lightning in a bottle. Contreras wasn’t a late-round gem by any means, but he had an ADP of roughly 130. Given the level at which he is performing he’s absolutely paying off his price tag.
But what happens if he is dealt at the trade deadline? Contreras is a free agent next year, and while he’s expressed interest in staying with the Cubs, a long-term deal hasn’t come to fruition for the 30-year-old catcher. Being dealt midseason as a top-end catcher is rare. You have to learn a whole new rotation and the methods of a new staff. But Contreras isn’t really an elite defensive catcher. So any team that acquires him doesn’t necessarily need to feature him as a backstop. Simply acquiring the bat to utilize at DH would be a boost to most lineups.
The most recent rumors have linked Contreras’ name to teams like the Padres, Astros, Mets, and Giants among a few others. In some regard all four of those teams have a need for a catcher or at the very least, a designated hitter. The Astros are an interesting option. They haven’t seen much offensive production from Martín Maldonado and Jason Castro. And they know, when everyone is healthy, they have a lineup that can go toe-to-toe with the Yankees. Most baseball fans are assuming it’ll come down to those two teams in the American League Championship Series and Houston needs to do whatever they can to bolster their offense that can best New York.
The remaining National League teams make a little sense too. The Giants have had a difficult time finding the offensive replacement for Buster Posey. Joey Bart hasn’t quite worked out and they certainly wouldn’t say ‘no’ to another offensive piece. Neither the Giants nor the Padres will catch the Dodgers for the NL West crown, but both are in the running for the NL Wild Card.
San Diego recently entered the rumor mill in the event they can’t land Juan Soto. The Padres have plenty of young assets in their farm system and any big deal they make will likely involve their top prospect, C.J. Abrams. The Padres have a need at outfield and at catcher. Per Dennis Lin of The Athletic “According to sources, the Padres have discussed the idea of adding both of the Cubs’ All-Stars – catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Ian Happ – to their lineup.” The Padres may not have the greatest environment for offense, but the lineup would be an upgrade for Contreras for the rest of the season.
With a little over a week to go before the trade deadline, Willson Contreras has established himself as a big asset to teams in the big leagues, as well as fantasy baseball managers. He’s performed as the top catcher so far and with two months to go in the regular season, a change of scenery could lead to even more fantasy production.
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Related MLB Links:
- July Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings
- Fantasy Baseball Daily Round-Up
- 2022 MLB Statistics
- Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Targets
- Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch