Report: Cubs, Astros had Willson Contreras deadline trade in place

Report: Cubs, Astros had Contreras deadline trade in place originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After months of trade rumors and speculation around Willson Contreras, the Cubs ultimately hung on to their All-Star catcher at the Aug. 2 deadline.

And a new report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan sheds some light on how close a deal was to coming to fruition.

According to Passan, citing four sources, the Cubs and Astros had agreed on a 1-for-1 trade of Contreras for starting pitcher José Urquidy at the deadline that was pending the approval of Houston owner Jim Crane. That approval never came.

Additionally, according to Passan, Astros manager Dusty Baker expressed his opposition to the potential trade.

"Much as I like Willson Contreras, Urquidy was one of our best pitchers then," Baker told Passan. "I needed a guy that wasn't going to complain about not playing every day. And this is his [free agent] year. See, that's tough. When you trade for a player in his [free agent] year. Everybody's about numbers and stuff, and I can't blame them, no doubt. But that's not what we needed."

It was widely expected the Cubs would trade Contreras, who went through several emotional goodbyes, at the deadline to recouple value before his free agency this winter. Kris Bryant, Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo were in similar positions when traded in 2021.

After deadline passed without a deal, team president Jed Hoyer suggested the 2021 selloff might have influenced the feeling a Contreras trade was a certainty.

"I've been in communication with his agents throughout the month," Hoyer said on Aug. 2. "We never gave any message to anyone that was like, ‘We're going to trade him at all costs.’

"We were obviously going to discuss him with teams, and if it makes sense for the Cubs, we'll do it. I think he knew that, but obviously I think there was the assumption based on last year that we would do it."

Urquidy, 27, would have addressed a Cubs need as a dependable starter under club control. He's arbitration-eligible through 2025 and made 28 starts in 2022, finishing with a 3.94 ERA in 164 1/3 innings.

Contreras officially became a free agent on Sunday with the conclusion of the World Series and has likely played his last game with the Cubs after seven seasons and 14 in the organization.

The Cubs will tender the three-time All-Star a qualifying offer, worth $19.65 million, Hoyer said last month.

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