Cubs GM called rumors of Contreras deal 'fictional,' but Angels are reportedly interested
After discussing the trade that sent top starting pitcher Yu Darvish and backup catcher Victor Caratini to the Padres for veteran right-hander Zach Davies and four prospects last week, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was asked about No. 1 catcher Willson Contreras.
Specifically, Hoyer was asked about a report saying he was "extensively shopping" Contreras.
"People have called about pretty much every player on our roster this winter," Hoyer said. "The reports (on Contreras), fictional. There's no other way to say it. Listen, Willson Contreras, I think he's one of the top handful of catchers in baseball. We control him for two more years. I think that catching is a strength of this team as a result of having him on the roster."
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal on Wednesday reported the Angels are interested in acquiring Contreras in a trade.
If this one is not fictional, a deal would reunite Contreras with former manager Joe Maddon.
The Angels are looking for catching help, with Max Stassi currently No. 1 on their depth chart. Over eight seasons with Los Angeles and Houston, Stassi is hitting .216/.297/.362 as a primary backup.
Hoyer liked the haul he got for Darvish, even though the four prospects -- shortstops Reginald Preciado and Yeison Santana and outfielders Ismael Mena and Owen Caissie -- have little or no professional experience.
The return was limited because San Diego is picking up $56 million of the $59 million Darvish is owed over the next three seasons.
If Hoyer does trade Contreras to the Angels, he should get a much better package.
Not only is Contreras under contractual control for two more years, he is a career .265/.351/.463 hitter over five seasons with the Cubs and one of the top defensive catchers in the game.
Moving Contreras would leave the Cubs with no catchers on the major-league roster, but they have been rumored to be interested in free-agent Jason Castro.