On the face of it, the Cardinals’ resolution to name up minor league catcher Tres Barrera didn’t appear to be the form of deal to make headlines round baseball, however the ramifications of it are vital. It’s not a lot the decision up of Barrera, however the reality his arrival means St Louis will shift Willson Contreras off catcher for the “subsequent couple of weeks”, as Katie Woo of The Athletic experiences, with Andrew Knizner to take over as the first backstop.
It’s an enormous transfer to shift your star low season recruit off his major place only a month into his first season, however the Playing cards clearly really feel that is the most effective transfer to assist them flip round their 10-23 begin to the season. Contreras, signed to a five-year, $87.5MM deal within the winter, will now function a DH/outfielder for the workforce, additional muddying an already crowded outfield image in St Louis.
On the plate, Contreras has been his common self, slashing .280/.361/.421 with a pair of residence runs, good for a wRC+ of 119. That’s a slight drop on his numbers from final 12 months however just about in step with his profession numbers. His offensive work was by no means more likely to be the supply of any concern although, with the main target right here certainly on his work behind the plate.
Catchers are a difficult place to evaluate statistically, however there’s typically been some query marks over Contreras’ work behind the plate. Considerations over his capability to deal with a pitching employees and name a recreation surfaced across the commerce deadline final 12 months when he was with the Cubs, and Chicago wound up holding him onto him till he hit free company on the finish of the season. That’s clearly a difficult concern to essentially quantify, nevertheless it’s actually price contemplating within the wake of this information.
Fangraphs offers him a -1 mark on their framing metric, whereas Statcast has him about center of the pack in that regard. So far as pop time goes Contreras ranks tenth out of MLB catchers, and has minimize down 5 of a possible 17 stolen bases thus far this season. Whereas he doesn’t rank as elite in both regard, it’s not terrible both and definitely means that there’s extra than simply catching statistics which might be driving this transfer. Whereas there’ll certainly be some clarification of this transfer from the Cardinals entrance workplace, there’s a very good likelihood their pitching employees’s begin to the season performed a component right here.
St Louis ranks twenty fourth within the majors in beginning pitcher ERA, a rating that may very well be rather a lot decrease have been it not for the wonderful begin made by Jordan Montgomery. Behind the left-hander, Steven Matz, Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty are all sporting ERAs properly north of 5. Whereas the reporting suggests this transfer is just for the subsequent couple of weeks, it’ll be attention-grabbing to see if Contreras can pressure his approach again into dealing with catching duties or whether or not this the long run transfer.
For now although, it creates much more uncertainty within the Cardinals outfield image. In immediately’s recreation, the workforce ran out Lars Nootbar, Dylan Carlson and Alec Burleson within the outfield, with Contreras dealing with DH, and that looks as if the most typical group we’ll see over the subsequent few weeks. But the workforce will welcome again Tyler O’Neill at some stage, and nonetheless has prime outfield prospect Jordan Walker at Triple-A, whereas Contreras is anticipated to function within the outfield combine as properly.
It’s doable Contreras winds up working his approach again into the catching image in some unspecified time in the future, however the Cardinals have been usually speculated as a workforce that would look to commerce an outfielder earlier than this transfer immediately, and with one other key bat now in that blend a commerce actually looks as if a risk in some unspecified time in the future over the summer season.