5 Free Agents The Tampa Bay Rays Should Be Targeting

Wild Card Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians - Game Two
Wild Card Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians - Game Two / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
4 of 6
Wilson Contreras
Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

C Willson Contreras

Speaking of a veteran presence, Willson Contreras was a guy the Tampa Bay Rays were reportedly interested in earlier this season before the trade deadline. Even Contreras himself thought he would be dealt to a new team with numerous emotional goodbyes to teammates, but ultimately wound up finishing the season out with the Chicago Cubs. Instead, the Rays were able to acquire Christian Bethancourt in lieu of Mike Zunino's season-ending injury, but his performance offensively wasn't quite what was expected.

For Willson, on the other hand, I believe he is a great target for the Rays to go after this season for a couple of reasons. First of all, he's been in the league for 7 years, and I think the expertise and knowledge he can bring to a young Francisco Mejía is vital. He looks to be the catcher of the future for the Rays, and I think a short-term deal for Contreras would be an ideal situation; Willson goes to a contending squad, and Mejía is able to learn and develop even further under his mentorship. Second of all, Willson has been one of the better offensive catchers throughout his career, averaging a .256/.349/.459 slash line. These numbers far eclipse those of Christian Bethancourt, and Contreras is coming off of back-to-back 20+ HR seasons.

In terms of Mike Zunino, I don't quite know if the Rays are planning on bringing him back into the fold or letting him walk, so this opens the door for Willson to be a possible free agent target. Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report noted that the Cubs plan on making Contreras a qualifying offer this offseason, so it's up to the Rays to be able to match that or offer a better deal if they truly want him. His offensive production, combined with his savvy defensive skills and veteran presence in the locker room, makes him an ideal candidate in my eyes.