It’s been apparent for some time that Willson Contreras would be moving on from the Cubs, a fate that was further assured when he officially rejected the qualifying offer on Tuesday. There was a little renewed hope after the Mets got scared and the Astros backed out of an agreed-upon deal, but the Cubs never really engaged in meaningful extension talks with Contreras because they wanted to go in a different direction behind the plate.
Seeing the way the pitching staff performed with Yan Gomes serving as the primary catcher while Contreras rested a bum ankle solidified the Cubs’ strategy. The front office is already kicking the tires on several free agent options, with Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic specifically naming Omar Narváez and Christian Vázquez as having been “discussed internally.”
Narváez was a solid run-producer over his first few seasons on the South Side and then in Seattle, but his glove has become his calling card over the last three seasons in Milwaukee. Definitely a backup type who isn’t likely to hit for average, he’s very familiar with the NL Central and has worked with developing pitching staffs in the past.
Vázquez spent the first seven-plus years of his career with the Red Sox before picking up a title with the Astros, and he’d bring a little more of a balanced performance. Though still a mediocre offensive producer, he can put up a solid average and doesn’t strike out much. He’s certainly familiar with playing in big markets and would probably operate in more of a timeshare with Gomes.
Given all the factors involved, I’d be more inclined to lean toward Narváez because he’s a lefty batter who’s about 17 months younger. He might also command a bit less in terms of both money and duration, which might make him a better fit if the goal is to find someone who’s more comfortable being a backup or serving in more of a split role.