January 30, 2023

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Cardinals target free agent Wilson Contreras

Cardinals target free agent Wilson Contreras

SAN DIEGO – The Cardinals franchise was confident earlier in the week that it would finally leave the MLB Winter Meetings with the catcher it desperately needs and aspires to – the higher target, Wilson Contreras – Those negotiations hit a snag on Tuesday and left her wondering who would be her hunter for 2023 and beyond.

As is often the case in high-stakes free agency negotiations, Contreras’ chances of wearing a Cardinals uniform next season will likely come down to the dollar and how far the Redbirds are willing to go in terms of the length of his next contract. Also, there’s this: Which entity will blink first when caving to the demands of the other – the thirsty Cardinals or the more accomplished in the free agent market?

According to a source who requested anonymity, the Cardinals’ hopes of landing Contreras were severely slowed on Tuesday when St. Louis refused to budge on a deal longer than three years for the 30-year-old catcher. While the Cardinals were willing to meet the financial demands of a career . 256 hitter—nearly $17 million a season—a fourth-year exclusion and possibly an option for a fifth proved to be a deal breaker. Now, the Cardinals are waiting to change their stance on Contreras, increasing their bid length or maybe Pursue other options. Shaun Murphy from Auckland Or Alejandro Kirk of Toronto might come across a trade that will cost them nothing but prospects.

“We’ve got balls in the air and we’re trying to determine the best way to deploy resources,” Cardinals’ president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday while declining to discuss negotiations with specific players. “I really spent the day trying to get more detail and understand what things are like. Hopefully we can do something before we leave? We’re hopeful, but yesterday I was a little more confident than I am now. But there’s still time.”

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Contreras, a longtime Cubs rival seeking a long-term contract and a chance at another World Series, met the Cardinals’ captains recently in Orlando, Florida, home of the catcher. Fittingly enough, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmul spent many of his formative years and went to high school in Orlando, so they had a lot to discuss. Marmol came away admiring the free fire agent’s leadership.

“It was a good visit, it really was,” said Marmol. “When you put everything aside from a competitive point of view and just have a conversation, learn what motivates and drives them and what they’re looking for, that tells us.

“Wilson is a very good competitor. We talked about loving winning, and this is a guy who loves to win. He’s a guy you don’t want to compete with because you know he’s good. He’s a great competitor, and you respect his game.”

Marmul led the Cardinals to 93 victories and an NBL crown in his first season as captain, but in his eyes the season was somewhat underwhelming because of how the veteran team crumbled in the playoffs. The franchise fell short of its stated goal—12th World Series title—largely because the Cardinals batters inexplicably shut up in a two-game loss to the Phillies in the Wild Card Series. The sixth-ranked Phillies also beat the Braves and the Padres and reached the World Series, but that did nothing to quell Marmol’s feelings of failure.

Marmol shared his bitter feelings with the players Tyler O’Neal And the Dylan Carlson, players who were highly relied on but suffered from injuries and sporadic production. Marmol wants these struggles to lead these players and lead to excellent feedback. Get more of these high-ceiling players—and add a catcher like Murphy, Kirk, or the proven Contreras—and the Cardinals won’t have to rely so much on NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and superstar Nolan Arenado.

“You are addressing [the 2022] “There are shortcomings in a couple of ways, and part of that is finding a catcher you can get into the middle of the lineup,” Marmul said. “But you also depend on production from some of the guys. Tyler O’Neal is going to have to produce more than he has produced this year. He’s doing it in a way that will give him the best chance. The other guys are taking this season very seriously.

“At the end of the day, quite frankly, they’re going to have to produce at a higher rate.”