The San Diego Padres team is surely a work in progress and there have been many reports indicating that A.J. Preller has been on the prowl. There have been reports of him looking for a shortstop as well as reports the GM was shopping relief pitchers once the team added Craig Kimbrel to its bullpen. A deal is going to happen, it’s just a matter of time. A.J. Preller is surely working the phones as you read this now.
One possible trade partner is the Oakland Athletics. The Padres and Athletics have teamed up on multiple trades in the past two seasons. Longtime reliever Luke Gregerson was dealt from the Padres to the A’s for Seth Smith before the 2014 season. Kyle Blanks was dealt to the A’s in May of 2014, in return the Padres obtained Jake Goebbert. Blanks had a decent run with the team while Goebbert saw some time with the major league team in San Diego last season. Goebbert hit .218 last season in 101 at bats. He had 1 home run and 10 RBI’s while striking out 32 times.
Again this past off-season the two teamed up on a deal when the Padres acquired Derek Norris from the A’s for R.J. Alvarez and Jesse Hahn. The two organizations have a great working relationship, and each of those deals were beneficial to both teams. Those factors indicate another deal could be imminent. With the A’s in a sort of rebuilding mode, although the team wouldn’t admit it, the roster could be in for another makeover.
The most notable name that would be available is Ben Zobrist. He is currently disabled with a knee injury but is reportedly close to a return. A June return is the most likely scenario. Zobrist was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays with Yunel Escobar for Boog Powell, Daniel Robertson and John Jaso plus cash. Ben Zobrist is in the last year of his contract and is likely to command a hefty price tag. Not the Athletics style to give out that much money to a 33-year-old player, especially one with a current knee issue.
Zobrist was a huge part of the overhauled offense for the Athletics. The team lost Josh Donaldson via trade to the Toronto Blue Jays and the team was counting on offense punch from the infielder. In 14 games for the A’s Zobrist was hitting .240 with one homer and eight RBI’s. He had yet to get his swing going and the knee issue could have been the root of the problem. Zobrist has a high tradition as a WAR folk hero of sorts. A perfect fit for the Oakland Athletics style of high on base percentage and versatility.
Ben Zobrist WAR (wins above replacement) numbers are amazing. In the past six seasons (09-14) in which Zobrist has played the majority of the season, he has amassed a total WAR of 37.5. That is an average of 6.25 wins above replacement per season. To put that into perspective let’s take a look at Justin Upton‘s WAR numbers during the same six-year period. Upton has totaled a 20.2 WAR over that time at an average of 3.36 per season. Zobrist is, according to this state of art new system, almost twice as better as Upton. Is that true? Could that be true? To baseball stat worshipers, it is. Zobrist provides the intangibles that just don’t show up on the box score each night.
The Athletics are currently 13-22 and headed the wrong direction. The team has gone 3-7 in there last 10 games. Already being eight games out of first place in May is a tough hill to climb. If the team continues to falter, GM Billy Beane will not hesitate to make a trade or two. Zobrist will most definitely be dealt and there could be a feeding frenzy on him. He has the ability to play short stop, second base, and first base as well as the corner outfield spots. Zobrist is a jack of all trades and his defense is surprisingly efficient for all the moving around he does on the baseball diamond.
So what would the Athletics require for Zobrist in the last year of his contract. The Athletics are in the need of pitching so perhaps Robbie Erlin or Odrisamer Despaigne interest them. It is really tough to say. The Athletics scouting department has a different sort of view when it comes to talent. They are very highly regarded as being unique and their interest in a player could vary. We will see what they command.
Zobrist is currently injured so a potential deal would have to wait until he returns from service. I am sure the Padres want to see him healthy before any talks can take place. With this being the last year of his contract, Zobrist should be motivated to perform at a high level once he is on the field. He just needs to get out there first.
The Padres and Athletics have a great relationship and I suspect Zobrist will be deal eventually. Before he is dealt to anyone, you would have to think A.J. Preller and the Padres are going to kick the tires on him. A switch hitting WAR machine like Zobrist doesn’t become available very often. He could immediately take over as the starting short stop for the Padres this season, His health and that knee are a big question mark however.