The Athletics appear to be engaged in “deep” discussions on utilityman Ben Zobrist, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports on Twitter. A deal could come together soon for the veteran rental piece, per the report.
Recent sales of Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard have placed Zobrist squarely on the block for Oakland, and we heard yesterday that he was likely the next piece to be moved. That’s not a major surprise, but one interesting development on the A’s side is the team’s decision to pursue lower-level minor leaguers in its two prior deals. GM Billy Beane cited the Astros model of stockpiling young talent in discussing his recent trades.
Zobrist has drawn interest from a wide array of teams, which is not surprising given his long track record of production, exceptional versatility, and affordable salary ($7.5MM this year). The 34-year-old will become a free agent after the year and looks like an amply reasonable qualifying offer candidate, so the return will presumably need to beat whatever value the A’s place on the draft pick they’d stand to recoup (assuming an offer would be extended and rejected).
Since an injury-filled and less-than-impressive start to the year, Zobrist has turned things on of late. All told, he’s slashing .268/.354/.447, good for a 122 OPS+ with half of his games being played in the O.co Coliseum. Though he has drawn unusually negative defensive ratings from UZR and Defensive Runs Saved, teams will probably place more stock in his history and current scouting reports.
Among the teams named as possible suitors, per recent reports, are the Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Yankees, and Cubs. The Mets had been seen as a possible trade partner, but seemingly passed on that opportunity in dealing for other infield and outfield options before nabbing Clippard yesterday.