Jan 10, 2015 4:25 PM
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland Athletics acquired infielders Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso and two minor leaguers Saturday in a trade between teams that have been real busy this offseason.
The Rays also got infielder Daniel Robertson, outfielder Boog Powell and cash in this trade.
The 33-year-old Zobrist is a two-time All-Star and helped the Rays make the playoffs four of the past seven seasons, including an improbable run to the World Series in 2008. He hit .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs last season, and made starts at second base, shortstop, all three outfield spots and designated hitter.
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 the versatile, switch-hitting Zobrist, a fan favorite who's entering the final year of a contract that pays him $7.5 million in 2015.
The Rays obtained Franklin from Seattle last July in the multi-team trade that sent pitcher David Price to Detroit.
The left-handed hitting Jaso returns to his original team. He played parts of three seasons with the Rays in 2008, 2010 and 2011. 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.
Jaso hit .264 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs. The 31-year-old went on the disabled list on Aug. 25 because of a concussion and missed the rest of the season.
Escobar batted .258. The 32-year-old shortstop had seven homers and 39 RBIs.
The A's have been active since winning a wild-card slot last season. They've traded Josh Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris, added DH Billy Butler in free agency and lost Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Jed Lowrie and Luke Gregerson.
The Rays have been busy, too, reshaping the roster in the wake of finishing below .500 for the first time since 2007 and losing manager Joe Maddon to the Chicago Cubs and former executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Last month the Rays, Padres and Nationals pulled off an 11-player trade that sent 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers from Tampa Bay to San Diego and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from Washington to the Rays.
Tampa Bay also received catcher Rene Rivera, pitcher Burch Smith and minor leaguers Jake Bauers and Travis Ott in the deal.
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