Trade Target: Ben Zobrist
By Tim Richer
There has been no shortage of moves made by the Padres since A.J. Preller took over as GM, but despite the plethora of moves questions remain. Some of the biggest being can Alexi Amarista or Clint Barmes hit enough to be the everyday shortstop? Will there be any lefties in the lineup? And who will lead-off? There’s someone whose available who could help answer those questions. Ben Zobrist.
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Zobrist’s name has been mentioned in trade talks since last season’s trade deadline and now the rumors appear to be gaining more steam. The two time All Star is scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2015 and with the Rays seemingly in a rebuilding mode it makes sense to deal him. The Rays seemingly put the nail in the coffin for his Tampa Bay career when they agreed to terms with Asdrubal Cabrera. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports echoed these sediments.
So why would San Diego be a potential destination for Zobrist? First of all, A.J. Preller seems willing to trade for just about anybody. So far this off-season if a player has been available the Padres have shown interest. Secondly, he helps solve the questions I mentioned earlier. He’s a versatile defender whose played position aside from pitcher and catcher and has played shortstop third most of any position. He’s also a switch hitter and he’s had the 37th highest on-base percentage in the league since 2009, the year he became a full time starter with the Rays.
He’s not a perfect fit for any of the roles I mentioned. He’s a switch-hitter, not a traditional lefty, he’s also not a traditional shortstop or lead-off hitter. While he may not traditionally be any of those things he is better than the team’s in house options. Amarista is the most likely candidate to play shortstop and lead-off as well as be the only lefty next to Yonder Alonso in the lineup. While Zobrist might be a slight downgrade in defense, he outperforms Amarista in just about every offensive category. The only edge Amarista has over Zobrist is he’s struck out at a lower rate over his career, but Zobrist has cut down on his strikeouts in recent years and topped Amarista in that category the past 2 seasons.
Zobrist would be tough to acquire. Like Heyman said he could go anywhere, so if the Padres do decide to pursue him they better be prepared to get in a bidding war with 28 other teams. I think Zobrist would be a valuable addition to this team, but he may end up being too pricey for the Padres especially as a one year rental.