Catcher Willson Contreras will reject the Cubs’ qualifying offer and instead test the open market this winter, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers tweets. The Cubs, who surprisingly did not trade Contreras at the deadline — a deal sending him to Houston was reportedly nixed by Astros ownership — made the easy call to instead make the one-year, $19.65MM qualifying offer to their longtime catcher. Contreras always appeared overwhelmingly likely to decline the offer. He’ll now seek a multi-year deal in free agency.
The 30-year-old Contreras will head into free agency on the heels of his fourth career season of 20-plus homers and 20-plus doubles. The three-time All-Star and 2016 World Series champion slashed .243/.346/.466 in what seems likely to be his final season as a member of the Cubs. Chicago had multiple opportunities to extend Contreras over the years, with the player himself publicly expressing his desire to stay along the way. It never appeared that the team made a strong effort to sign Contreras for the long haul, however, and with veteran Yan Gomes signed through 2023, the Cubs have at least one alternative option (though there’s a good chance they add another via free agency or trade).