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Why Cubs’ Willson Contreras at center of top 2 All-Star storylines

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Why the Cubs’ Contreras are at the center of All-Star storylines originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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The Cubs have turned one of last year’s biggest All-Star Game storylines into a showcase of trade deadline bait, right down to Chris Bryant’s irritating in-game microphone interview about his imminent departure.

Seventeen days later, Bryant was traded to the Giants, ending a 15-day purge of a nine-man roster that included fellow Cubs All-Star Craig Kimbrel.

Fast forward 11 months and the Cubs are poised to steal the all-star headlines again – this time with catcher Wilson Contreras at the center of what suddenly promises to be two from the larger storylines of the classic summer solstice.

Like Bryant last year, Contreras is the most important part of the Cubs trade as he leads all National League catchers in All-Star voting – with the possibility of other potential trading chips Ian Happ and/or David Robertson joining him. .

But Contreras is also in the middle of what could be an enjoyable All-Star story this year, as 24-year-old younger brother William of the Bold looks set to join him in Los Angeles. game July 19th.

“Can you imagine this – the All-Star Game?” said Bengi Molina, the eldest of the three Molina brothers who caught the big leagues – only one of them (Yadi) made the All-Star team. “That was what I always thought about.

“That would be amazing.”

If this sounds surprising to any of Molina, imagine the reaction of any of the Contreras brothers – the two played against each other for the first time at any level less than two weeks ago at Wrigley Field.

RELATED: Molinas: ‘Inspirational, exciting’ watching the Contreras brothers

William, the second catcher on the Braves’ roster, is on the All-Star ballot as a designated hitter and finished second to Phillies superstar Bryce Harper in the latest voting update on Monday.

If William initially had a meager chance of doing so, voted by the players as a reserve or as an injury replacement, his chances improved on Saturday night when Harper broke his thumb while hitting the field.

“I saw it. It’s very unfortunate that this happened to him,” Contreras said. “Hopefully my brother can make it to the All-Star Game. It’s something we can’t control, but it would be good for my family to go together. … I’m proud that my brother plays well in the big leagues.”

The top two players with votes in each position (the top six outfielders) as of Thursday advance to the second round of All-Star starting spots, and the voting begins anew.

Wilson is the overwhelming favorite to win the deciding vote, and it’s possible that William could challenge Harper if the fans change their votes due to injury or if, in turn, he becomes the best available DH in player voting.

RELATED: A Contreras All-Star reunion? “The next step towards realizing our dream”

“We didn’t talk about it,” Wilson said. “Sometimes you feel like if you talk about something that might be out of our reach, we put pressure on ourselves. Let it happen; just keep playing the way we’ve been playing all year and see what happens.”

Depending on where older brother Wilson goes next, they may see each other more often in the final months of the season – perhaps even again as playoff opponents.

This is another big All-Star storyline that looks like a new, post-nuclear tradition for the Cubs.

Will fellow Cubs trade chips with David Robertson or Ian Happ joining Contreras in yet another All-Star run-up?

Or is this: will Contreras still be wearing a Cubs uniform by the time he is at Dodger Stadium for a demo, or will he be CIO by then (Cubs only in selection) given that between the game and the deadline August 2 is only two weeks away. ?

When it comes to form at that game, Wilson is adamant about it.

“I am proud to wear the Cubs jersey to the All-Star Game,” said the NL starting catcher in 2018 and 19. “This is my home; this is my home. And this has been my home for 14 years [since signing as an amateur]. I don’t think many players can say that.

“I got here in 2009 and nobody was here,” he said of joining the organization two years before Javi Baez was drafted, three years before the Cubs were traded for Anthony Rizzo, and four years before they chose Chris Bryant.

“I’ve seen everyone come to this club,” he said, “and wearing a Cubs jersey will mean a lot to me. It will mean a lot to my family because they gave me the opportunity to become a professional baseball player.”

And maybe a lot more, maybe a lot more personal this time.

“I hope we can share this with my brother,” he said. “In his first full year, I hope he gets the chance to get to Los Angeles and I hope we can make it to the All-Star Game together.

We will definitely have a good party.

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