Willson Contreras rumors: Recent injury increases likelihood of trade to potential suitor

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras is a coveted trade target for many but the Tampa Bay Rays may have just gotten the biggest incentive to make a deal happen.

It’s possible Willson Contreras played his last home game as a member of the Cubs on Monday as Chicago bested Pittsburgh.

While the Cubs could still get an extension done, it seems more likely he’ll be moved by Aug. 2. The question now is where he’ll call home next.

Could it be Tampa Bay? A recent development for the Rays is giving that question a boost.

Willson Contreras rumors: Recent injury incentivizes Rays to trade

Starting catcher Mike Zunino is out for the rest of the season because of thoracic outlet syndrome, which has caused numbers and tingling in his left arm. He’s undergoing surgery to deal with it.

Zunino is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Rays. There is no guarantee he’ll be back next season when he’s recovered from surgery. He batted .148/.195/.304 this season, with five home runs and 16 RBI, which was quite a step down from his All-Star showing in 2021.

The timing of the season-ending surgery couldn’t be a greater incentive for the Rays to go out and trade for his replacement right now.

FanSided’s Robert Murray reported interest from the Rays in Contreras behind the scenes.

Contreras is a year younger than Zunino and has played at an All-Star level in 2022. He has 14 home run, 37 RBI and two stolen bases while batting .258/.373/.471. His OPS is .844.

The Cubs are reportedly asking a high price for Contreras but they risk letting him go for nothing if they don’t get a deal done before the deadline. The Rays may be desperate enough for a new catcher to come closest to matching their demands.