Cubs’ Willson Contreras ‘proud’ of trade rumors, ready for what’s next

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Gordon Wittenmyer
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Willson Contreras: Trade rumors ‘make me proud’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

MESA, Arizona — Whatever happens next for Willson Contreras in his All-Star baseball career, the Cubs’ catcher doesn’t seem to be sweating the small stuff — or maybe even the not so small stuff — anymore.

He’s definitely not sweating trade rumors for the second winter in a row, unlike the first winter of it.

“Those rumors didn’t bother me. It’s the other way,” he said. “Those rumors make me proud, because with everything that I’ve done to be where I’m at, it makes me proud.”

Two days after Cubs star Kris Bryant heaped praise on newly promoted team president Jed Hoyer for his “openness and honesty” in vetting rumors he encountered, Contreras said he didn’t bother testing Hoyer’s open-door policy.

“It was kind of, ‘go through it relaxed’ because if I got traded I know that I’m ready to play with anybody and anywhere,” Contreras said, “so that didn’t bother me. I’m in a spot where those types of things don’t bother me.”

Whether that has anything to do with perspective gained from a past calendar year unlike any most of us have ever seen, it definitely represents a change for Contreras.

 A year ago when he got to camp, Contreras talked about the “hurt” of hearing his name in trade rumors and feeling more “secure” getting to spring training and surviving the winter without being traded.

This time around, he even had fun on Twitter with some of the reports.

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“I know a few reporters were trying to make something out of [nothing],” he said. “but that’s what [social] media’s all about: just go have fun and do whatever we need to do with it.”

What’s next for one of the top catchers in baseball and a Cubs team in transition could be one of the biggest questions the Cubs answer this spring — or that lingers toward another uncertain winter.

For now, he said he hasn’t heard anything from the Cubs about being one of the players Hoyer expected to have talks with about extensions this spring.

Contreras isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season, so the Cubs in theory don’t need to operate with as much urgency with Contreras as the three core players entering their final seasons before free agency: Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo.

Of the three, only Rizzo has begun talking again to the team about an extension, according to those three players in media sessions over the past six days.

MORE: Why Cubs’ Javy Báez plans to set deadline for extension talks

On the other hand, the Cubs find themselves in urgency mode — for extensions or deadline-deadline trade decisions — with all three because of an inability to reach agreements with Báez last year and Bryant a few years earlier.

“Obviously, I’m willing to listen to whatever they have, but I think my main focus is on this year with the team and trying to have a great year for all of us,” Contreras said “I’m just not thinking about it. If they come to me and want to talk about it, I’m open to it.

“I’ve been with this [organization] for 13 years now. It’s going to make me feel good if they have that in mind, for sure.”

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