Tampa Bay Rays Trade Zobrist to Oakland


Apr 22, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) at bat against the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Minnesota Twins 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Ben Zobrist era is over in Tampa Bay.

After months, if not years, of speculation, the Rays finally traded the versatile all-star to Oakland in exchange for former Rays catcher John Jaso, and top prospects Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell. The Rays also sent shortstop Yunel Escobar to the A’s.

Also Saturday, the Rays officially announced the signing of short stop Asdrubal Cabrera.

“These trades are difficult, but they’re a necessary part of how we operate,” Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman told the Tampa Bay Times. “That doesn’t take away the sting. We understand our constraints, and we adhere to the formula. In an ideal world, we don’t choose to make these kinds of trades, but we don’t have the luxury to do that.”

The trade draws the curtain on one of the most decorated players in Rays history. Zobrist, 33, clubbed 114 home runs and 541 RBIs in 1,064 games in a Tampa Bay uniform. While his bat was extremely valuable, his versatility meant just as much with his ease to play any position in the outfield or infield. A two-time all star (2009, 2013) Zobrist is the franchise leader in walks (542) and doubles (229). He was due to make $7.5 million in 2015.

Escobar was acquired two seasons ago and hit .257 in 290 games with the Rays. However, his defence slipped in 2014 as he committed 16 errors, after having just seven in 2013.

In Jaso, the Rays re-acquire the catcher they traded after the 2011 season. Jaso spent three seasons with the Rays (08,10,11) hitting .245. In three seasons since with Seattle and Oakland, he’s hit 22 home runs and 101 RBIs. While primarily a catcher, the Rays reportedly have interest in Jaso playing first base and in the outfield.

Aug 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher John Jaso (5) at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Robertson and Powell are both considered two of Oakland’s top prospects, with Robertson listed as their No.1 prospect. In mlb.com’s updated Rays prospects list, they too have Robertson listed at No.1.

Robertson, 20, is a shortstop who has a great arm and a solid bat. He hit .310 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs in 132 games with Stockton in Advanced A ball.

Powell, an outfielder, hit .343 between Stockton and Beloit of the Midwest League, where he was named an all-star. However, he was suspended for 50 games in July after testing positive for amphetamines. He is ranked as the Rays’ 12th best prospect.

Cabrera, who agreed to a deal with the Rays in December, will presumably take Escobar’s place at short stop in 2015. With Zobrist out of the fold, Nick Franklin, acquired in the David Price trade, seems likely to play at second base.