Ex-Cub Willson Contreras has 'goose bumps' over replacing Yadi Molina


Contreras discusses leaving Cubs for Cards, replacing Yadi originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Willson Contreras discussed his departure from the Cubs to the Cardinals and replacing longtime St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina in a Players' Tribune piece posted Thursday.

Contreras who spent his first 14 professional seasons in the Cubs organization, agreed to a five-year, $87.5 million deal with St. Louis this week.

He met with Cardinals brass, including team president John Mozeliak and manager Oli Marmol, at his home in Orlando last week.

"At the end of the day, it just felt really good having them tell me that they believed in me - as a player and as a person," Contreras wrote. "They valued me. They told me they wouldn't have come down to visit with me if they didn't think I was capable of being the guy to follow up a Hall of Famer, an all-time great.

"And when they said that? Hearing that? Maannn, let me tell you. It gave me goose bumps. First, of course, it made me proud. But also, it just really got me fired up and excited and inspired to be a part of the Cardinals organization."

Contreras wrote it's a "huge honor" to succeed Molina, who enjoyed a decorated career behind the plate for the Cardinals the last 19 seasons and retired after the 2022 campaign.

"This is truly going to be one of the great honors of my entire life," Contreras wrote.

Conteras has spent about half his life the Cubs organization after signing as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2009. He helped the Cubs win the World Series as a rookie in 2016 and went on to start three All-Star Games in his seven seasons.

Contreras wrote he's "grateful" for his Cubs tenure, calling it "an incredible ride."

"But nothing lasts forever, right?" he wrote.

"I know I've given my all to the Cubs over the years," Contreras continued. "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. 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."

Switching sides in the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is obviously going to be a change for Contreras, as he wrote about.

He concluded his piece with a message to Cardinals fans as he takes on the next chapter of his career.

"I know what it takes to get there," Contreras wrote of winning a championship. "I'm driven to get back - I want it more than anything. So this couldn't be more of a win-win. It's the perfect match. I can't wait to get started.

"Now let's go out and win some titles together, St. Louis."

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