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Cubs’ handling of Willson Contreras at deadline shameful

Cubs' handling of Willson Contreras at deadline shameful

Cubs’ handling of Contreras at trade deadline shameful originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

ST. LOUIS — Effross might be gone. But Eff Contreras is alive and well as an ongoing subplot to the 2022 Cubs’ season.

Thought the Cubs left their “double birds” in San Francisco over the weekend?

Then you probably didn’t see what the Cubs did to their three-time All-Star catcher, Willson Contreras, at the trade deadline Tuesday.

By not trading him Tuesday after shopping him coast to coast for the last month, the Cubs kept him out of a pennant race, sent him back into a clubhouse for about two dozen hello-again hugs two days after the last of those goodbye hugs in San Francisco and this:

When the Cubs collar him with a qualifying offer this winter instead of that deadline trade, they’ll tie him to draft-pick compensation, which will soften his market as a free agent and cost him his best shot at his biggest career contract.

Cubs president Jed Hoyer wouldn’t directly answer a question Tuesday about whether he might reconsider trying to extend Contreras long-term. But sources confirmed what seemed obvious at the time: The Cubs chose the draft-pick compensation (and the bonus-pool allotment money that comes with it) as the value to cash in, instead of the lower-than-asked return in a would-be trade.

Contreras seemed to say he hadn’t thought that far ahead, or didn’t want to share his thoughts on it.

“One thing is for sure,” he said. “Tomorrow is another game. So I have to stay focused. That’s all I can say.”

Contreras and Ian Happ both expressed immediate relief at not being shipped out Tuesday — both having expressed repeatedly a desire to stay with the team long-term.

“I feel like there was a lot of weight off my shoulders,” said Contreras, who drove a ball to the wall in the first and tripled in the third inning during Tuesday night’s 6-0 loss to the Cardinals.

“Man, it’s a huge relief for me, and now I’m just focused on playing baseball.”

MORE: ‘Lots of hugs’ for Cubs’ Ian Happ after deadline passes

Whether Happ gets that shot with extension talks before his final arbitration-eligible season starts next year, Contreras remains a short-term Cub unless Hoyer’s front office has a sudden reversal of thought on the subject.

“We talk about building the next great Cubs team, and we’re trying to do that on the backs of really good prospects,” Hoyer said as he explained to media why Contreras and Happ did not…

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