The New York Yankees and New York Mets are expected to be active in the two weeks before MLB’s trade deadline, and they could be going after the same player, Ben Zobrist.
Zobrist, one of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball, was acquired by the Oakland A’s in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the season. However, with Zobrist eligible for free agency after the season and the A’s now in last place in their division (in part due to a lot of bad luck), Zobrist is expected to be one player who is available for the right price.
The Mets have already talked to the A’s about trading for Zobrist, according to John Harper of the New York Daily News. Joel Sherman of the New York Post upped the ante when he reported that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is willing to “overpay” for the utility player to help boost the team’s offence.
However, at the time of the report (July 3) Zobrist had reportedly been taken off the market as the A’s got hot and won 12 of 18 games. That likely changed quickly as the A’s then lost five of their next seven games and now sit 8.5 games back in their division with the worst record in the American League.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are also interested in acquiring Zobrist, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who listed the Yankees and Mets along with the Giants and Nationals as the teams interested.
So, why is Zobrist such a hot commodity? He brings a ton of value to a team. Since the start of the 2009 season, only two players in all MLB have been worth more Wins Above Replacement (WAR) than Zobrist.
The reason Zobrist brings so much value to a team despite only finishing above 16th in the AL MVP voting once (8th in 2009) is because he does a lot of things very well.
Even though his offensive numbers are down this year, he has consistently shown he can get on base, with a .363 OBP since the start of the 2009 season, with occasional power, reaching 20 home runs in three of the past six seasons.
Zobrist also provides that offence with an incredible amount of defensive flexibility. He is an above-average defender who can play just about anywhere on the field. In his career, he has started games at every position except catcher and pitcher. So while he has played second base, left field, and right field this season, he can be used elsewhere if needed.
That is a tremendous weapon to have down the stretch in a pennant race.
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