3 Cubs trade targets Yankees should pursue at 2022 deadline

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 9: Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs steps in the batters box in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on April 9, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 9: Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs steps in the batters box in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on April 9, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images) /
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Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

1. Willson Contreras

When Willson Contreras tweeted airplane emojis on the day the Cubs’ nontender decisions were supposed to come down, Yankee fans everywhere whetted their speculative lips for a lower-cost, higher-production Gary Sánchez replacement.

Then … Contreras just stayed in Chicago, and the Yankees replaced Sánchez with a folk hero who can barely hit and a folk hero who can barely hit.

Sure, everyone loves Jose Trevino, but … Contreras is up among MLB’s top hard-hit leaders alongside Stanton and Judge. Trevino and Higashioka are … not.

As of play on May 16, Contreras had a .906 OPS, while Trevino’s and Higashioka’s combined OPS marks added up to .953 (.529 and .424). He’s now down to .840 (through May 22), but is still destroying the baseball, ranking in the 100th percentile in terms of hard-hit rate, a position we didn’t even know it was possible to occupy. With a half-year left of control, Contreras is cranking extra-base hits, taking his walks (.382 OBP), hitting for average (.258) and holding down the fort defensively.

(Can we make the font, like, way smaller for this next part?) Oh, but he’s … hmm … his framing is in the 12th percentile, per Statcast. The ultimate dagger.

Typically, a backup catcher is the “defense only” option behind a starter with a little more bat, but not for the 2022 Yankees, who’ve sprinted to first place with two black holes behind the dish. Would you sacrifice some of that framing success for a little extra pop at the deadline and into October?