CHICAGO – Catcher Willson Contreras and the Chicago Cubs avoided an arbitration hearing scheduled for later in the day, agreeing Thursday to a one-year contract for $9.625 million.
The agreement was at the midpoint between the $10.25 million Contreras had asked for and the $9 million the Cubs had offered when figures were exchanged on March 22.
Contreras, 30, hit .237 with 21 homers and 57 RBIs in 128 games last season, leading National League catchers in assists for the third time. The two-time All-Star is batting .277 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs this season. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
No statistics or evidence from after March 1 would have been admissible in arbitration other than contract and salary comparisons. The timing was set when Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed to the deal that ended the lockout.
Contreras could be traded before the Aug. 2 deadline with the Cubs in rebuilding mode. They are fourth in the NL Central at 23-33.
Contreras, pitcher Kyle Hendricks and outfielder Jason Heyward are the only players remaining from the 2016 World Series championship team. The Cubs traded away stars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez before last season’s deadline rather than risk losing them as free agents. Chicago went on to finish with a losing record for the first time since 2014 at 71-91.