Should the Red Sox Explore a Willson Contreras Trade?

The MLB trade deadline is set to fall on August 2nd this year. Whether you’d like to believe it or not, that date is not so far away. The end of June is already here, and thus begins a very exciting time of the baseball season. I’m of course talking about trade rumor season, which is going to really heat up in the coming weeks.

There will be a fair amount of speculation surrounding the Boston Red Sox during this time period. Boston has bounced back in a big way during the month of June, sporting a wildly impressive 16-4 record. This coming after a rough start to the season in which the Sox lost 27 of their first 50 games.

As a result of Boston’s hot streak in June, they have now regained the status of “contender.” That change of status ultimately means that the Sox will presumably be buyers ahead of this year’s deadline. Boston has look great of late, but there is definitely room for improvement.

Most people would point to the bullpen as a real area of need, and those people are correct. That being said, Boston’s offense could use another reliable bat added to the lineup as well.

The bullpen has been a real problem this year, but so hasn’t the offense at times. It was the Sox’s anemic offense in the beginning of the year that played a big role in their bad start.

That’s where Willson Contreras could possibly enter the picture. On the surface, you may be scratching your head as to why Boston needs a catcher. They have Christian Vazquez after all, who’s in the midst of a decent season batting .278 with a .318 OBP for the Sox. In comparison, Contreras is batting .269 with a .383 OBP for the Chicago Cubs. Both catchers are over 30 years old, and both are set to be free agents following this season.

You’re probably even more confused now as to why Boston would ever consider such a trade. Well, the numbers I just presented don’t really do Contreras justice. Willson Contreras is THE best catcher in baseball. Guys like Salvador Perez and Will Smith may hold a claim to that title. There are arguments to be made for both.

I however truly believe Contreras is the best catcher in all of baseball right now. Defensively, he’s a rockstar. You’ll be hard tasked to find a catcher who’s better behind the plate than Contreras.

Although Christian Vasquez’s batting average may be higher, Contreras is better than him in nearly every other statistical category. Maybe most importantly, he brings a lot more power than Vazquez. Contreras has 12 homeruns on the season, while Vazquez has just 4. Not just this season, but historically, Contreras is a far superior power hitter.

Just take a look at their career numbers, and you tell me who’s got the more powerful swing:

Vazquez:

  • 50 Homeruns
  • .386 Slugging %
  • .695 OPS
  • 854 Total Bases

Contreras:

  • 107 Homeruns
  • .463 Slugging %
  • .815 OPS
  • 1,055 Total Bases

Just an FYI, Christian Vazquez has been in the league since 2014. Contreras since 2016. Both guys are close in plate appearances (although Contreras does have more plate appearances). Contreras is just a far superior power hitter. Only once in Vazquez’s career has he surpassed 10 homeruns (23 in 2019).

Contreras has hit 10 or more homeruns every year of his career except for 2020, the COVID shortened season.

For a team that ranks just 18th in homeruns, adding a consistent bomber like Contreras could make a huge impact. Throw in that he’s an upgrade behind the plate as well, this would be a nice improvement for Boston. Vazquez has done his part, and has been with the team since 2014. That being said, moving on for a better overall player would not be a bad move at all.

The good news also is that he is most definitely available. The Cubs are in the midst of a rebuild, sporting a horrid 26-44 record on the year. They sold off most of their big pieces last summer, but Contreras was one of the few stragglers left behind. Considering he will 100% leave the Cubs in free agency, it’d be wise for the team to get something for him.

This fact could also drive down the asking price for Contreras. Catcher isn’t exactly a premium position that is demanding of lots of prospects. A catcher on an expiring deal should be pretty reasonable to acquire.

Boston would have to give up some prospects, and probably would look to add a third team to the deal to move Vazquez as well. It’s a move however I do think Boston should consider making.

It’s not the most glaring need the team has, but it’s still a need nonetheless. Adding a consistently strong hitter like Contreras could help bolster Boston’s big three of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez. If Trevor Story and Alex Verdugo heat up also, Boston could have an offense that would rival the Yankees’. It may be a longshot, but definitely something Boston should think about.

Featured Photo by Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune

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