UPDATE: Athletics acquire Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from Rays

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UPDATE: The deal is official. The Athletics will inherit the salaries for Zobrist and Escobar and will also send cash considerations to the Rays, presumably to help pay for Jaso’s 2015 salary.

1:24 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rays will receive catcher John Jaso and prospect shortstop Daniel Robertson in the deal. Meanwhile, Keith Law of ESPN hears that prospect outfielder Boog Powell (no, not that Boog) will also be sent to Tampa Bay.

A supplemental first-round pick from 2012, Robertson is considered Oakland’s top prospect. The 20-year-old batted .310/.402/.471 with 15 homers and 60 RBI last season with High-A Stockton. Powell, who turns 22 next week, owns a .317/.412/.384 batting line with three home runs, 35 stolen bases and more walks (102) than strikeouts (96) over his first 177 games in pro ball. Jaso, who spent the first three seasons of his career with Tampa Bay, batted .264/.337/.430 with nine home runs and 40 RBI over 99 games last season before going down with post-concussion issues. The 31-year-old is expected to mostly DH with the Rays, which means that Rene Rivera will be the primary catcher.

1:08 p.m. ET: Billy Beane’s fascinating offseason continues, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics are on the verge of acquiring Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Rays.

No word yet on who the Rays will get in return for Zobrist and Escobar, but Slusser hears that it is likely to be one player off the major league roster and a top prospect or two.

After shedding the likes of Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss, and Derek Norris this offseason, it appeared that the Athletics were going into rebuilding mode. However, Beane clearly saw it as a reshuffle more than anything else. Escobar gives the A’s another option for shortstop along with Marcus Semien while Zobrist is tailor-made for Oakland and can slot in just about anywhere. As for the Rays, they continue to strip things down. Moving Zobrist and Escobar clears the way for Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Franklin to be regulars in Tampa Bay’s middle infield, though Logan Forsythe and Hak-Ju Lee could also be in the mix.

Zobrist turns 34 in May and batted .272/.354/.395 with 10 home runs, 52 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 146 games last season. He’s due to make $7.5 million in 2015 before hitting free agency and could be a trade chip for Oakland if they fall out of the race. Escobar, 32, took a step back defensively last year while batting .258/.324/.340 with seven home runs and 39 RBI over 137 games. He’s owed $5 million in 2015 and $7 million in 2016 while his contract includes a $7 million club option or $1 million buyout for 2017.

Rumor: MLB execs discussing 100-game season that would begin July 1

David Price and Mookie Betts
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Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.

In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.

Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.

Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.