Updated: Oct 9, 2019
With a headline like that, bring the hate.
Look, I love Willson. I love his energy. I love his arm. I love how he told Yadier Molina he was better than him. I love his bat. I love his passion for his homeland. He's always entertaining to watch.
But unfortunately, it makes sense for the good of the cubs to trade him. I'll explain.
In this stupid age of human umpires, there is a metric called pitch framing. And while it pains me to think that catchers can skillfully steal strikes by fooling an umpire. It is a thing. And unfortunately, Willson typically ranks at the bottom of those ranking lists.
Willson Wears Down
Batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and RC+
First half .286 .381 .556 .937 140 RC+
Second half .238 .280.475 .756 91 RC+
First half: .279 .369 .449 .818 123 RC+
Second half: .200 .291 .294 .585 62 RC+
First half: .261 .329 .454 .782 103
Second half: .305 .407 .586 .993 157 (REVERSED!)
First half: .305 .387 .561 .948 153 RC+
Second half: .271 .342 .453 .795 113 RC+
On top of that typically poor second half play, you'll note that he's been on the DL 4 times, and averages 120 games per year since becoming a full time major leaguer. He can't stay healthy. He's missed 73 days in 3 years due to DL time. Durability is a concern.
Willson is old.
Well, in 2019 he'll only be 28. But as a late bloomer, his long term outlook isn't as strong as one might hope. Traditionally, catchers after age 30 drop off. He's capable of playing other spots, but that's a consolation prize.
Willson is controlled.
He's under team control for 3 more years, with 3 arbitration years. Given the above issues, he won't command big bucks. That makes him a very attractive trade target.
Willson is expendable.
Victor Caratini came up huge in 2019. He worked notably well as a battery mate for Yu Darvish. He also put up a solid .795 OPS. He doesn't have the same injury history or mileage as Willson. Paired with a solid veteran, he could carry the Cubs at catcher for a few years, making Willson expendable. Plus Miguel Amaya could be up in 2 years.
Willson has value.
Willson is a top 3 bat for MLB catchers. On the trade market for a cost controlled player, that's huge. A couple solid prospects could be had from the right team. Why not let another team take the risk on Willson's career arc as he gets older?
Sorry Willson. If you stay with the Cubs, I won't be upset. But your trade value could be fantastic.