Susan Slusser has just reported that the Oakland Athletics have acquired Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar for John Jaso, Boog Powell and top prospect Daniel Robertson. Wow. Being the A’s top prospect is a curse at this point in time, with Billy Beane trading former top prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs to acquire Jeff Samardzija.
Let’s break down the deal for a moment: Zobrist has been one of the hottest commodities on the trade market of late, placing second only to Cole Hamels. The addition of Zobrist and Escobar makes the A’s better in 2015, and could certainly help them be a contender yet again this coming season. The deal makes the team much more versatile, with Zobrist able to play both middle infield positions and in the outfield, with Marcus Semien now filling the super utility role.
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As we have all pondered, “what happens if Brett Lawrie gets hurt”? Now the A’s have a player in Semien who can slide into third base duties if needed, and still provide some pop.
Last year, Zobrist hit .272 with 10 homers and 52 rbi, while Escobar hit .258 with 7 home runs and 39 rbi. That duo, compared to the middle infield of last year with Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard (Sogard-.223 1 homer, 22 rbi, Lowrie- .249 6 homers, 50 rbi) is certainly an upgrade.
Fans have also been wondering what is going on with left field as of late. This is more of a stretch, but if Mark Canha doesn’t take over the position, Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry can still be used as depth outfielders, while Zobrist has the ability to play left field as well, and moving Semien to second. As a whole, the trio of Zobrist-Escobar-Semien is a better option offensively than Canha-Zobrist-Escobar.
Ben Zobrist has one more year on his current deal, and is due to make $7.5M, while Escobar is signed for the next two seasons at $5M and $7M, with a team option for 2017 ($7M, $1M buyout).
The A’s are better now than they were yesterday, but what could really end up paying off down the road is the development of Marcus Semien, who is thought to be a younger Ben Zobrist. Who better to teach him how to be Zobrist than Zobrist?
Of course, there is still the chance that Beane flips one of these players, or others before the start of spring training, because that’s just what he does. Matt Olson, you’re now he #1 prospect. Be careful.