A Willson Contreras contract extension might be closer for the Chicago Cubs than many people realize.

Chicago Cubs fans were left scratching their heads when they went to bed on the last day of the MLB trade deadline and Willson Contreras was still on the roster. Viewed as one of the most desirable trade candidates this year, if not the best, the issue with dealing him was pretty clear.

There just weren’t that many suitors out there for Contreras because of the position he plays. The New York Mets were unwilling to pay the price. The same was likely true for the typically trade-savvy Tampa Bay Rays. With so few teams bidding, the Cubs were left keeping him.

Was it a disaster? Not quite. A Contreras extension may be closer than most fans realize.

Cubs have many paths toward a Willson Contreras contract extension

Contreras will undoubtedly get a qualifying offer at the end of the year. If he rejects it, the Cubs receive draft pick compensation. They are probably feeling that whoever they can pick up with that pick is better than the offers they were receiving for Contreras. For them, it’s a good situation.

What about the player?

If Contreras rejects the qualifying offer, he could still return to Chicago on a shorter deal with opt-outs included. At 30 years old, Contreras is around the same age as J.T. Realmuto when he re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Although that free agent signing has potential to age poorly, the Cubs could always look at something with a higher AAV over a shorter period of time.

Free agency was turned on its head last winter when Carlos Correa inked a huge deal with the Minnesota Twins that included an opt-out after only one year. Contreras wouldn’t get paid nearly as much, but on a shorter deal, the Cubs or someone else could make sure he gets the money he feels.

Contreras may relate to the Chicago front office a little more in the offseason. Landing spots aren’t going to suddenly increase in the offseason, although some clubs could surprise us. To give Cubs fans some nausea, the St. Louis Cardinals could be a place where he could even end up in free agency.

The Cubs will, at the very least, end up with an extra draft pick. At most, they bring back one of the best-hitting catchers in the game. The rebuild doesn’t have to last long if they make other smart moves around a possible Contreras contract extension.

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