As of Sunday, the Cubs were one of four teams seriously pursing Ben Zobrist according to Nick Cafardo. The Nationals, Giants and Angels were the other three teams that had separated themselves from the pack at the time.
Matt Silverman and the Rays are believed to be looking for “at least one top prospect and a mid-level one” for Zobrist.
The Giants’ assistant general manager, Bobby Evans, told Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden he wasn’t sure if the Giants could meet the asking price for Zobrist. Evans admitted the Rays “will have plenty to choose from” and the Giants may not be in as strong a position to meet Tampa’s demands as other teams.
The cost to acquire Zobrist, who has one-year remaining on his contract, is believed to be very high for what many teams think will be a rental.
Ken Rosenthal confirmed previous reports Thursday by stating “the Rays want a significant return for Zobrist.”
Rosenthal thinks Zobrist would be an “almost perfect” fit for the Nationals, especially with Jayson Werth out for at least two to three months. Rosenthal explained Washington is “not actively pursuing” Ben Zobrist, despite the fact he would be a “significant upgrade at second base and protection” in the outfield.
During a segment Friday with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth on MLB Network Radio, Jon Paul Morosi reported the Nationals are very serious about trading for Zobrist.
Rosenthal believes the Nationals should push to trade for Zobrist. Mike Rizzo does not want to include players such as RHP A.J. Cole for Zobrist, who could just add to the long list of potential free agents on Washington’s roster.
The Nationals have five players that could be free agents at the end of next season. And they would not be able to make qualifying offers to all of them, plus Ben Zobrist, in the event the qualifying offers are accepted.
Rosenthal pointed to the Cubs or the Giants being in a better situation to make a qualifying offer to Ben Zobrist as the reason they “might be willing to give more for Zobrist.”
Executives Rosenthal spoke to questioned if San Francisco “could build a package if they refuse to include right-hander Kyle Crick or catcher Andrew Susac.” Baseball America ranked Crick as the top prospect in the Giants system prior to last season and Andrew Susac was 11th in BA’s ranking.
The Cubs, on the other hand, have the prospects to acquire Ben Zobrist as well as other teams interested in Zobrist. And the Nationals are one of those teams with the young pitching in the system along with second baseman Wilmer Difo. Rosenthal thinks the Nationals are “in decent shape long-term but built to win now.”
There has not been any speculation from the national media on which players it would take from the Cubs’ system to acquire Ben Zobrist.
Bruce Levine indicated last weekend the Rays are looking for near Major League ready players that would give the team cost certainty moving forward.
Ben Zobrist would help the Cubs win games next season. The question remains if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be willing to part with the prospects it would take to acquire him for what could end up as only one year.