UPDATE: Athletics acquire Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from Rays

55 Comments

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.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

Getty Images
1 Comment

Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports