Tampa Bay has already had a pretty active offseason following the departures of Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon, and now Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com writes that “there’s a decent chance” the Rays trade Ben Zobrist before Opening Day.
Zobrist has been a regular for the Rays since 2008, playing all over the field defensively while hitting .270 with solid power and good plate discipline for an .804 OPS. He’s generally been one of the most underrated all-around players in baseball.
But he’s also 34 years old, set to make $7.5 million in 2015, and eligible for free agency next offseason. All of which is why the Rays may look to cash in Zobrist to a team in need of a good switch-hitter who can slide into the lineup at basically any position.
Morosi lists the Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, Reds, and Giants as the most likely interested teams.
Baltimore is looking for outfield help following the departures of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. San Diego has excess outfielders following the arrivals of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers.
Seems like a good trade match, right? Maybe.
According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun “dialogue continues” between the Orioles and Padres, with Seth Smith and Will Venable being Baltimore’s targets.
Smith and Venable are both left-handed hitters and Orioles manager Buck Showalter has shown himself to be a fan of platooning, so they could be especially good fits in Baltimore.
Smith hit .266 with 12 homers and an .807 OPS in 136 games this past season, which is strong production while calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home. Venable struggled this year, but was a consistently above-average hitter from 2008-2013 and can play center field if needed.
Right-hander Tim Stauffer has agreed to a one-year, $2.2 million contract with the Twins.
Stauffer had success as a starter early in his career, but injuries led to a shift to the bullpen and he’s fared well there with a 3.63 ERA and 131/43 K/BB ratio in 134 innings during the past two seasons.
However, calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home for his entire career helps keep Stauffer’s raw numbers looking better than his actual performance. His lifetime ERA is 3.07 at Petco and 4.64 everywhere else, including 4.28 on the road the past two years.
He figures to work middle relief for Minnesota at age 33.
Designated for assignment by the Yankees last week, right-hander Preston Claiborne has been claimed off waivers by the Marlins.
Claiborne has held his own as a big leaguer with a 3.79 ERA and 58/24 K/BB ratio in 71 career innings through age 26, so Miami probably views him as a potential middle relief option.
He was originally the Yankees’ 17th-round draft pick in 2010 and debuted in the majors in May of 2013.
Looking for some catching depth due to Matt Wieters’ uncertain health status, the Orioles have claimed Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Cubs.
Lavarnway has bounced around the waiver wire this offseason after being let go by the Red Sox.
His defense behind the plate draws mixed reviews and he hasn’t hit in the majors yet, but Lavarnway is a career .284 hitter with 32 homers and an .824 OPS in 256 games at Triple-A.