The St. Louis Cardinals have found their replacement for the spot vacated by longtime catcher Yadier Molina, reaching a five-year, $87.5 million deal with free agent Willson Contreras on Wednesday, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Contreras, 30, has spent the past 14 seasons in the rival Chicago Cubs’ organization. In seven MLB seasons, he has hit .256 with 117 home runs and 365 RBI.
Known for his strong arm, Contreras has dealt with criticism about his game calling, but that may have been overblown as he helped oversee a Cubs pitching staff which went to the postseason in five out of six years from 2015 to 2020.
Contreras can also play left field or first base and will likely get some reps as the designated hitter when he’s not behind the plate.
He compiled a 128 OPS+ in 113 games last season for the Cubs but is the only free agent catcher with draft pick compensation attached to him after Chicago gave him a qualifying offer.
Molina retired after a career that spanned 19 seasons in the majors, all with the Cardinals. The 10-time All-Star catcher was a two-time World Series champion, winning nine Gold Glove awards and a Silver Slugger award while registering 2,168 hits.