Oakland Athletics Could Trade Zobrist To The Chicago Cubs


The Oakland Athletics have been playing great baseball lately. As of Thursday night, they had cut their wildcard deficit down to 6.5, so they may not be the sellers that they appeared to be just a couple of weeks ago. This will not deter teams from trying to acquire super-utility player Ben Zobrist, though. That is why Billy Beane can expect to get a call from the Chicago Cubs’ Jed Hoyer in the near future.

Since 2011, when Theo Epstein took over baseball operations in Chicago, the Cubs have quietly built one of the most formidable rosters in baseball (including some not-so-quiet moves in 2014, like the acquisition of Addison Russell in a trade for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel). The addition of manager Joe Maddon signaled that the Cubs want to win now. With a hold on the National League’s second wild card spot, they may be one or two pieces away from making that a reality.

Ben Zobrist May Be That Piece

The Cubs have potential All-Stars at every infield position, so they cannot ask for much more help in that department. But they have had to play a veritable game of musical chairs in their outfield this season.

The Cubs are especially deficient in left field this season. Chris Coghlan has been heating up lately, but he has been falling well short of expectations for most of the season. He has also averaged 88 games per season up to this point in his career, so the Cubs may be taking a risk by counting on him to be the every-day left fielder.

Chicago recalled rookie left fielder Matt Szczur from Triple-A Iowa to provide backup in left field, but he is batting an anemic .191/.235/.298 through 52 plate appearances this season.

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Despite hanging onto the second wild card spot, the Cubs still have to catch up to the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. They will want a more reliable man in left field, and Zobrist is probably on their radar.

What Do The A’s Get In Return?

The A’s top two prospects are infielders, but their system has a notable weakness at second base. If Zobrist does end up being sent to Chicago, the A’s may be able to send over a package that nets phenom infielder Gleyber Torres. He is hitting .312/.381/.390 for Single-A South Bend this season, and is known for an arm that can put him anywhere on the infield.

The A’s also have several outfielders who become free agents in 2017, including Josh Reddick, Sam Fuld, and Coco Crisp. Beane is painfully aware of this, and may be interested in trying to acquire outfielder Albert Almora, who will likely be big-league ready next year. Since he is a top-10 outfield prospect, Zobrist alone might not be a big enough piece to get a package including Almora; the Cubs might want Ryan Cook or Dan Otero to help solidify their bullpen.

The A’s and Cubs established a trading relationship with their blockbuster Fourth of July trade last year. If the A’s remain in wild card contention, do not look for Zobrist to be dealt. But in a scenario where the A’s have fallen out of contention and the Cubs still have playoff aspirations, count on the Cubs coming to Beane. Zobrist would be in high demand in that scenario, so Beane will be able to ask for a pretty hefty price for his prized player.