Signs point towards the San Francisco Giants having interest in a trade for Tampa Bay Rays utility man Ben Zobrist, according to Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com.
Considered one of the top possible fits for Zobrist, San Francisco recently sent special assignment scout Pat Burrell to Tropicana Field for undisclosed reasons. The Giants have been sending scouts there all year, the reporters note, and not just when rumored trade candidate David Price pitches.
It’s possible those scouts are simply fulfilling usual assignments that have nothing to do with trade talks, but Zobrist could also be a target. He makes sense for the Giants as a versatile defender who can fill multiple positions, including second base as the team tries to stabilize things at that position.
The switch-hitting Zobrist has played well again this season, batting .266/.352/.406 with six homers in 353 plate appearances for Tampa Bay. That combination of above-average offensive production — his OPS+ sits at 116, per Baseball-Reference — and defensive versatility makes him one of the more valuable players in the game.
However, Zobrist is unusually old for someone with his experience at age 33, and only has a team option for the 2015 season remaining on his contract. While that one year at $7.5 million in a no-brainer, he will likely be in line for a raise once his current deal expires after the 2015 season.
So it’s understandable that the Rays will consider deals for Zobrist, even if he’s been integral to the team’s impressive success in recent years. Should a team like San Francisco be willing to fork up good value, Tampa Bay may need to bite the bullet in order to keep reloading.