I’d probably have gotten booed like Tom Ricketts at the last Cubs Convention for mentioning this prior to Monday, but holy hell has the news cycle turned on a dime. In a matter of hours, we went from thinking Yu Darvish was more likely than not to remain a Cub to hearing that the Padres were still interested in him AND one of either Willson Contreras or Victor Caratini.
My first inclination was to go with the former, who is more valuable in a trade and has seemed to this point the most likely core player to be moved for a significant return. However, a little additional thinking has led me in a different direction. A lot of people have pointed out that Caratini is Darvish’s personal catcher and I get that, but I think the real reason he’d be included should something come about is that it keeps Contreras’s value higher.
Moving Contreras with Darvish might water things down a bit, particularly if the Padres are reluctant to part with top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore. The increased salary would mean the Cubs having to take back more money rather than better and more young players in return, so Caratini might end up being a better value.
Multiple reports and healthy speculation have the Cubs seeking two prospects and two MLB players in return, so think something like Wil Myers, Jake Cronenworth, shortstop prospect CJ Abrams and lefty Adrian Morejon as a possible return. Maybe righty Chris Paddack since the rotation would be getting tight. I’m really bad with trade proposals, but the Padres want to alleviate some salary and Myers does that. The others fit what the Cubs are looking for, though I’d personally like to see them get more.
Even if something happens here, it doesn’t mean Contreras is staying on the North Side. Trading Darvish signals that the Cubs are punting on at least 2021 and maybe ’22 as well, so what’s the point in keeping the All-Star catcher with just two years of control? His value will never be higher and moving him would further replenish the system, particularly when it comes to pitchers.
Miguel Amaya almost certainly won’t be ready for an everyday role in the coming season, nor will the Cubs want to start his service-time clock, so the rotation would probably be throwing to a cheap veteran and/or P.J. Higgins. Not the most tantalizing prospect, but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility.