Say hey, baseball: Ben Zobrist is probably getting traded
Your New Year’s Eve baseball explains why Ben Zobrist is on the way out, why Max Scherzer won’t sign in Boston, and the Royals suddenly lofty payroll.
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It’s not a guarantee that Ben Zobrist will be traded, but it’s looking very likely that we’ll see it happen, and maybe even soon. He’s in the final year of an extension he signed in early 2010, and while even the Rays can afford the $7.5 million he’s owed, they probably can’t afford to retain him once he hits free agency: he’ll be heading into his age-35 season as a free agent, but he’s also still putting up five-win seasons and is capable of playing shortstop. He’s quietly one of the game’s best players, and even if it’s a short-term deal to counter his age, the money will be there.
It became even morel likely he’ll be moved when the Rays signed Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year, $8 million deal on Tuesday. While the Rays would be worse with Cabrera instead of Zobrist, they might be able to bring back a significant piece for him, like the Angels did by flipping the last year of Howie Kendrick for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, or how the Braves received Shelby Miller for the final season of Jason Heyward’s deal. If the Rays plug Cabrera in for a year but bring back a piece that will help them during the years Zobrist would be elsewhere anyway, well, that sounds like a Rays’ kind of thing to do.
The Rays traded James Shields for a major prospect package a couple years before free agency. They moved Matt Garza to the Cubs with the same idea in mind. They traded the last year-and-a-half of David Price. They just dealt Wil Myers, who isn’t even arbitration eligible yet, for a package of players they believe represent greater value for them. Occasionally a Carl Crawford or a B.J. Upton will hit free agency, so it’s unclear which camp Zobrist resides in yet, but unless the plan is to move shortstop Yunel Escobar instead, Zobrist is probably gone.
The Nationals would be a fit, with Danny Espinosa their second baseman and lone weak link. The Giants have missed on almost everyone they’ve courted this year, so Zobrist would solve a lot of their problems. The Mariners just traded for Seth Smith to platoon with Justin Ruggiano in right, but could still use someone like Zobrist to improve both their offense and defense if they don’t mind moving one of their younger position pieces. The Rays don’t have to move Zorilla, but with 2015 already representing a major change for the organization, now would be the time.
- The New Year is almost upon us, and yet almost every National League team still has a major hole in it.
- The Royals are suddenly flush with cash after a successful 2014, and their payroll is at nearly $111 million for 2015.
- Hiroki Kuroda is gone to Japan and supposedly never coming back. How do the Yankees fill that gaping hole in their rotation?
- Seth Smith has been dealt, but the Padres are still sitting on extra outfielders Will Venable, Cameron Maybin, and Carlos Quentin. One of those (probably Quentin) still has to be moved.
- The Marlins like fixing pitchers, especially young ones with sinkers. They tired of trying to fix Nathan Eovaldi.
- The Yankees likely had to choose between Chase Headley and Martin Prado. They chose Headley, and that’s how they ended up with a slightly used Eovaldi .
- The 2015 season doesn’t start tomorrow, but as constructed, how many games do you think the Tigers win next year?
- The Braves have a Plan B for B.J. Upton, and it involves weeping and wondering how they got themselves into this mess.
- Your local or national baseball writer might be pushing this idea, but please, ignore them when they say the Red Sox are a potential Max Scherzer destination.