A’s acquire Rays’ Zobrist, Escobar for Jaso, two minor leaguers

Looks like Tampa Bay Rays' Ben Zobrist is going to Oakland. 

Bob DeChiara/Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s have acquired Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays, the A’s announced in a press release Saturday. 

In exchange, Oakland is sending catcher John Jaso, whom Tampa Bay acquired two years earlier, back to the Rays alongside two minor-leaguers, top shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson and minor-league outfielder Boog Powell.

The news was first reported by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Infielder Zobrist, 33, has spent his entire nine-year career in Tampa Bay, where the two-time All-Star batted .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI last season.

"He’s really kind of a perfect fit with his skill set," Beane said of Zobrist. "You could probably say that about 29 other clubs. He’s a pretty unique player."

Zobrist became expendable after the budget-minded Rays finalized a one-year, $7.5 million contract with former Cleveland infielder Astrubal Cabrera, who will either play shortstop or second base, with another recent arrival — Nick Franklin — getting an opportunity to earn the other spot.

"These trades are difficult, but they’re a necessary part of how we operate," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said of moving Zobrist, a fan favorite who’s entering the final year of a contract that pays him $7.5 million in 2015.

Shortstop Escobar, 32, batted .258 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in his second season with the Rays. He’s also played for the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves. 


The acquisitions of Zobrist and Escobar will move second baseman Eric Sogard to the bench as the A’s will likely have new starters at all four infield spots. Brett Lawrie, acquired in the Donaldson trade, is slated to start at third base, and new acquisitions Billy Butler and Ike Davis will likely share duties at first.

The deal also could allow Oakland to use Marcus Semien, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a deal for Samardzija, as a versatile substitute at numerous positions.

The left-handed hitting Jaso, 31, returns to his original team (he played parts of three seasons with the Rays in 2008, 2010 and 2011) having played 99 games last season for Oakland, where he logged a .264 batting average. Silverman envisions him contributing mostly as a designated hitter, while also adding depth as a catcher.

"He’s the kind of (offensive) player our lineup has been missing" against right-handed pitching," Silverman said, adding another key to the deal was an opportunity to acquire Robertson, a 20-year-old prospect the Rays believe has a chance to develop into an everyday player.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.