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Willson Contreras’ free agent deal sets interesting record

Willson Contreras rounding the bases

Sep 7, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran catcher Willson Contreras has officially left the Chicago Cubs and is doing so for a record-setting contract (in a sense).

Word broke on Wednesday that Contreras reached a five-year, $87.5 million contract agreement with the rival St. Louis Cardinals, pending physicals.

Katie Woo of The Athletic notes that Contreras’ deal is now the largest free agent contract ever given out by the Cardinals to a player not already on their team. The previous record was held by the five-year, $82.5 million contract that outfielder Dexter Fowler got from St. Louis in 2016.

While the Cardinals are technically a small-market team, they consistently rank around the middle of the pack in payroll every year. It is a bit stunning that they have never given out even a $90 million contract to an outside free agent. But it makes some sense since many of St. Louis’ top players over the years, like Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, and Yadier Molina (whom Contreras is replacing), have been homegrown.

Contreras, a three-time All-Star who hit 22 home runs in just 113 games last year, seemed to turn down other teams who are bigger contenders. But with a contract like that coming from the Cardinals, you can hardly blame him.


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