New Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras is already embracing his new home.
“I couldn’t be more excited about coming to St. Louis,” Contreras wrote Thursday in a story for The Players’ Tribune titled “Let’s do this, St. Louis!” “It’s a dream come true, for sure. At the same time, though, I’d be lying if I tried to say this wasn’t going to be a huge change for me … like it’s no big deal.”
Contreras recalled being 16 when the Cubs signed him out of his hometown of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, when he was “barely old enough to drive a car.”
“I didn’t know any English,” he wrote. “All I knew was baseball. And the Cubs.”
Contreras earned a World Series ring in his rookie season in 2016, the Cubs’ first championship since 1908.
“And I couldn’t be more grateful that that’s how things went for me, either,” he wrote. “I’ve been so lucky to have been a part of the Cubs family for the past 13 years. It’s been an incredible ride! I mean, winning a World Series right off the bat? In my rookie season? It doesn’t get much better. And it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
“I know I’ve given my all to the Cubs over the years,” Contreras wrote. “I did everything I could to help make the team better. I played through injuries. Left it all out there on the field. I’m proud of what I’ve contributed.
He continued: “So I have no regrets about turning the page. I worked extremely hard for many years to get to this place, to be in this position. It’s something I’ve dreamed about — building a career that would allow me to get to where I am right now. And I’m moving on knowing I did all I could for my team.
“But now my team is the Cardinals.”
With longtime catcher and future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina retiring just two months ago, the mission heading into the Winter Meetings was finding his replacement. Andrew Knizner has not panned out at the plate or behind it as the Cardinals have anticipated up to this point.
But now, they have a World Series champion and a proven All-Star at catcher, and with the top-notch lineup they already have, things are only looking up from here.