Kansas City Royals have swung a deal to grab Ben Zobrist from the Oakland A’s, fortifying virtually every outfield position that Zobrist is able to play. Oakland will receive two promising pitchers in return, signifying they’re also in rebuilding mode along with Colorado, Cincinnati, and several other clubs. The news was first reported by MLB on Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal via Twitter, and was confirmed by ESPN.
In 1131 MLB games, Zobrist has nailed 120 homes, 544 RBIs, and had been the epicenter of an elite Tampa Bay organization for nearly nine years. His best season, 2009, saw him hit 27 homers and knocking home 91 but hit for average, too (.297). He’s played 67 games for Oakland this season, and will fit into an already elite Kansas City Royals lineup that is expected to make yet another World Series. Zobrist will join the Royals Thursday and will probably bat sixth, according to Ned Yost.
In exchange for Zobrist, Kansas City will send left-hander Sean Manaea and right-hander Aaron Brooks to Oakland. Brooks has pitched in four career MLB games, giving up 16 ER in 7 IP. Manaea hasn’t pitched for Kansas City, but will definitely factor into Oakland’s rebuilding plans. Kansas will also receive $2 million cash for both prospects.
Kansas City had been aggressively seeking bats and an extra arm, and recently grabbed Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati. With the addition of Zobrist, it’s clear that Kansas City Royals execs are serious about bringing home their first World Series since 1985. With Zobrist, too, the Royals will get a player with the fourth highest WAR (wins above replacement) since 2009.
Since Detroit has declared themselves non-sellers, the Central Division has been buzzing like crazy, with only the Twins uninvolved with trade talks (at least openly). The Royals have a cushy eight game lead over Minnesota, and have a four game lead over the Yankees for American League’s best record. Since the American League won the All-Star game, they’ll have home-field advantage in the World Series, which Kansas City intends on participating in.
It’s unclear whether Kansas City is finally done shopping this trade deadline season, having second baseman needs and possibly a fifth starter. With Mike Leake, Tyson Ross, and several other less effective pitchers still available, the hungry Royals may actually find themselves making several more phone calls.
Roughly 72 hours remain for teams to make their pitch for Cole Hamels, Jay Bruce, and other big names being made available. Will Kansas City factor into any trade talks? It’s been a strange 48 hours around the league, so don’t sit down just yet.
[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport]