Royals make another big move, get Ben Zobrist from A’s

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Not satisfied with acquiring Reds ace Johnny Cueto for three minor leaguers, now the Royals have pulled off another major trade for an impending free agent.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the A’s have traded 34-year-old infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist to the Royals in exchange for pitching prospects Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks.

Zobrist has played just about everywhere defensively during his career, but the A’s mostly used him at second base and in left field. Those two spots are areas of need for the Royals too, as left fielder Alex Gordon is out until September with a groin injury and second baseman Omar Infante has struggled offensively all year.

In addition to the defensive versatility Zobrist brings to the Royals he’s also a switch-hitter with a lifetime .784 OPS, including hitting .268 with six homers, 20 doubles, more walks (33) than strikeouts (26), and an .801 OPS in 67 games this season.

Kansas City has the AL’s best record and now the Royals have added a top-of-the-rotation, Cy Young-caliber ace and an .800 OPS switch-hitter who can play anywhere. General manager Dayton Moore is not messing around.

Manaea was a Royals first-round draft pick in 2013 and the 23-year-old left-hander ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect coming into the season. He’s been limited to just 32 innings due to injuries and has a history of health problems, but Manaea has top-of-the-rotation upside and 185 strikeouts in 153 pro innings.

Brooks had brief stints with the Royals in 2013 and 2014 as a reliever, but the 25-year-old right-hander has been a starter in the minors with a 3.81 ERA and 189/46 K/BB ratio in 246 total innings at Triple-A. He lacks big upside, but should find a role with the A’s soon.

Koji Uehara has retired

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Jim Allen of Kyodo News reports that Koji Uehara has retired from baseball.

Uehara, 44, has spent the past two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, which is the where he began his career way back in 1998. He spent eight years there as a starter, winning 20 games in his rookie season, then one year as a closer and one year in swingman duties before coming to the United States.

Once in the majors he pitched for four different major league teams over nine seasons — the Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox and Cubs — from 2009-2017. In that time he posted an excellent 2.66 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 572/78 K/BB ratio in 480.2 innings and notched 95 saves. He won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2013 and was an All-Star in 2014. Uehara’s last big league stint in America with the Cubs in 2017, for whom he posted a 3.98 ERA (111 ERA+) in 49 games.

Happy trails to an excellent reliever.