SAN FRANCISCO — The reality hit Willson Contreras after the last pitch. The Cubs’ 4-0 loss to the Giants on Sunday might have been his last game in a Cubs uniform.
“Tomorrow’s another day,” Contreras said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a long day. It’s been a long, long week — long, long month for me.”
The trade deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday before the Cubs open a three-game series in St. Louis. And the team has a day off Monday, one Contreras is planning to fill with video games, maybe a trip to the pool.
“Do something different than checking my phone,” Contreras said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Keeping his mind clear of trade-deadline thoughts has been easier said than done recently, with reports of several teams — the Padres and Mets to name a couple — showing interest in trading for Contreras.
Manager David Ross has spent much of the year praising Contreras for the way he had been able to shut out contract distractions. But the last week, which began with an emotional farewell tour at Wrigley Field, has turned up the intensity.
“It’s just hard,” Contreras said, “because anytime you have a little time off or free time, your mind’s going right away to the rumors. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I won’t lie.”
Contreras talked to Ross about the stress of the moment. He closed out the month with a .149 batting average in July.
“I just want this to be over,” Contreras said. “If they’re going to trade me, they’re going to trade me. If they don’t want to trade me, they don’t. But I just want this day to pass and keep focusing on playing baseball.”
One way or another, he’ll have clarity on his future by Tuesday night. He’s not completely ruling out the possibility that he’ll still be on the Cubs’ roster past the deadline. But more likely, he’ll be donning a new jersey on a team with the playoffs in sight.
That’s not where this club, the one he has spent his whole career with, is headed.
“I know this team is not made to win this year,” he said of the 41-60 Cubs. “Not even close. But I’ve learned a lot from this team, too, losing. I learned a lot.”
While he was frank about the direction of the club, Contreras had nothing but praise for his teammates. And in interview after interview this week, his teammates have made it clear that the admiration is mutual.
This weekend, right-hander Marcus Stroman called him the “cornerstone of the franchise.”
“We’re all going to miss Willson,” Stroman said. “He’s still on our team, but it’s almost like you know what’s going to happen with the hugs and everything, how it was at Wrigley the last homestand. We’re super-thankful for him. I think he’s going to be great. I think his career is just getting started, to be honest with you.”
Righty Kyle Hendricks, who has played with Contreras since 2016, also raved about him.
“What he’s done for myself, I can’t even put words to it,” Hendricks said. “He’s been my guy for going on six-plus years now. We’ve thrown together, how well we know each other now — and there’s, like, this unspoken language. We can just look at each other now.
“So it’s just something so special I’ve never had with any other catcher in my career. And so he’s definitely one of my favorite teammates ever, one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. And we just really respect each other and what we’ve been able to do over these years.”
Now the only thing left to do is wait.
“I’m really thankful for the time that I’ve been here,” Contreras said. “But obviously this game shows you that it’s not about feelings; it’s about business.”