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CHICAGO — Sitting in the visitor’s dugout at Wrigley Field may still be a new experience for Kris Bryant after his 833 games over six-plus seasons in a Chicago Cubs uniform, but he is slowly getting used to the idea.
Kris Bryant is not the first member of the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs to change addresses and dugouts in the past couple of seasons. He also knows he won’t be the last, with current Cubs catcher Willson Contreras potentially leaving the Friendly Confines after this season.
Contreras is on a one-year deal with the Cubs that expires at the end of the campaign, and it’s expected there will be plenty of suitors lined up to talk to the 30-year-old catcher and designated hitter once free agency begins.
With Bryant having been traded from the Cubs to the San Francisco Giants at last year’s trade deadline, then signing a seven-year, $182 million deal with the Colorado Rockies this offseason, the former National League MVP has experienced plenty of change and times where decisions that are best for his future and family have needed to be made over the past 12 months.
Kris Bryant reflected on his decision this past offseason and shared advice with his former Chicago Cubs teammate, Willson Contreras
“It’s almost impossible, but try not to think about it too much,” Bryant said of the past offseason and his advice to Contreras. “It’s a big year. It’s your last year heading into free agency and you get a crack at that if you’re a little bit older once in your career, so you really have to take full advantage of it.”
Bryant said that Contreras has already been through plenty of discussions and rumors about his future, including this past trade deadline when the Cubs decided to keep him rather than trade him. That experience, Bryant said, will likely help Contreras this offseason.
“He plays a premium position,” Bryant said. “He’s one of the best in the game so I think he’s going to do just fine. I don’t know where he’ll be, whether it’s here (Cubs) or somewhere else, but I think he’s handled himself pretty well this whole year.”
Making his MLB debut on June 17, 2016, Contreras played in 76 games as a rookie in the year the Cubs erased their 108-year drought for World Series wins. He also received 43 plate appearances in the postseason, including 22 in the Fall Classic. Since then, Bryant, who made the throw across the diamond from third base that sealed the Game 7 World Series win, has seen Contreras evolve into one of the more respected catchers in the game today.
“I’ve seen him grow a lot and mature a lot and really take that leadership role in the clubhouse,” Bryant said. “I think he handled the whole trade deadline situation well. I couldn’t be more proud of him seeing how much he’s grown from when he first got called up.”