MLB

Dusty Baker – Astros interested in signing Willson Contreras

Dusty Baker – Astros interested in signing Willson Contreras
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SAN DIEGO — Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker confirmed his team is interested in free agent catcher Willson Contreras just months after a trade for him was nixed.

« It’s not that I didn’t want him, » Baker explained on Day 1 of the winter meetings on Monday. « It’s just at the time I didn’t think it was a proper fit with two months to go in the season.

« We’re going to talk to him. And we have interest in him. »

Contreras, 30, is looking for a long-term deal after spending over a decade in the Chicago Cubs organization. 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. That can limit the market for free agents.

« I’ve talked to some guys that were big-time Contreras fans from Chicago because I called [bullpen coach] lester [Strode] about him, » Baker said. « Lester spent as much time with him in the bullpen, catching pitches. And he’s a big Contreras fan. He told me he loved the kid. »

The St. Louis Cardinals have spoken with Contreras’ representatives, who have also kept in touch with the Cubs, according to sources familiar with the situation. Contreras is in line for a deal between four and five years, worth up to $80 million, sources said.

The Astros and Cubs were close to a trade involving Contreras last July, but Baker felt there wouldn’t be enough time for a new catcher to learn his pitching staff. But now might be the right time to add another piece to the world champions.

« And if the numbers are right and the years are right and the situation is right, then [it’s] right for both of us, » Baker said.

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