Rays Send Zobrist, Escobar to A's In Five-Player Trade; Sign Cabrera to One-Year Contract
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired catcher/designated hitter John Jaso, minor league shortstop Daniel Robertson, minor league center fielder Boog Powell and cash considerations from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
In addition, the Rays agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.
"It's an emotional and meaningful day as we bid farewell to Ben Zobrist and thank him for everything he's meant to the Rays organization," said Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman. "Any description of his value, talent and character would understate how we feel about Ben, and we consider ourselves fortunate for all our great moments together."
Jaso, 31, returns to his original club, where he spent parts of three seasons (2008, 2010-11) and appeared in the 2010 and 2011 American League Division Series. In 2014, he batted .264 (81-for-307) with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 99 games for Oakland, including 47 starts at catcher and 32 starts at designated hitter. All 79 of his starts came facing right-handed pitchers, as the lefty hitter owns a career .272 batting average, .368 on-base percentage and .424 slugging percentage against them. His last two seasons have ended prematurely due to concussions, missing the final 33 games in 2014 and 60 games in 2013. Over the last three seasons with the Seattle Mariners (2012) and Oakland (2013-14), Jaso has compiled a .270 batting average, .372 on-base percentage, 22 homers, 49 doubles and 122 walks in 277 games. He was selected by the Rays in the 12th round of the 2003 June Draft.
Robertson, 20, was recently rated the No. 1 prospect in the A's system by both Baseball America and MLB.com. He spent the 2014 season with Class-A Stockton, batting .310 (170-for-548) with 15 home runs and 60 RBI in 132 regular-season games, and earning a promotion to Double-A Midland for its playoff run. He ranked among California League leaders in batting average (sixth), hits (first), doubles (37, tied for first), on-base percentage (.402, fourth), runs scored (110, second) and total bases (258, fifth). Following the season, Robertson hit .301 (22-for-73) with one home run and 12 RBI in 20 games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, played in the AFL Rising Stars Game and was named to the AFL's Top Prospects Team. He was originally selected in the supplemental first round (34th overall) of the 2012 June Draft.
Powell, who turns 22 on Wednesday, was recently ranked the No. 11 prospect in the A's system by MLB.com. He split the 2014 season between Class-A Beloit and Stockton, led the A's system with a .343 batting average (108-for-315) and .451 on-base percentage, and drew 61 walks to 53 strikeouts. After earning Top Star honors at the Midwest League All-Star Game, he served a 50-game suspension for a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and returned in late August. Powell hit .300 (21-for-70) with two home runs and 10 RBI in 21 games for Mesa in the AFL following the season. Despite his nickname of Boog, he has no relation to the former major league first baseman of the same name.
Zobrist, 33, leaves the Rays as the franchise's career leader in doubles (229) and walks (542) and ranks second to Carl Crawford in games played (1,064), hits (1,016), triples (32) and runs scored (565). His seven years, 134 days of service time with the Rays has been topped only by Crawford (eight years, 72 days). Acquired from the Houston Astros in 2006 as part of a trade for Aubrey Huff, he grew into a two-time All-Star (2009, 2013) and became the first major league player on record to appear in 200 games at second base, shortstop and right field. Over the past four seasons he leads all major league switch-hitters with 236 extra-base hits and ranks second with 632 hits. His 504 walks since 2009 rank fifth in the majors, while his 483 unintentional walks lead the majors during that span.
In 2014, Zobrist batted .272 (155-for-570) with 10 home runs, 52 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He started at five defensive positions (74-2B, 23-SS, 17-LF, 16-RF, 7-CF) and was named the club's MVP by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, an award now named after Don Zimmer.
Escobar, 32, hit .258 (123-for-476) in 2014 with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 137 games. He spent 15 games on the disabled list in June and July with right shoulder soreness, and his 476 at-bats were his fewest since his rookie season of 2007 (319). The eight-year veteran spent the last two seasons as the Rays starting shortstop. Since 2008, he's started 950 games at shortstop, most in the majors.
Cabrera, 29, split the 2014 season between the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals, batting .241 (133-for-553) with 14 home runs and 61 RBI in 146 games (142 starts; 92-SS, 48-2B, 2-DH). After parts of eight major league seasons with the Indians, Cabrera was acquired by the Nationals at the trade deadline and helped Washington clinch the National League East while being used as a second baseman, his first action there since 2009.
The two-time All-Star (2011, 2012) is a career .268 (973-for-3,635) hitter with 87 home runs, 451 RBI and a .330 on-base percentage in eight major league seasons. Since 2011, he ranks among major league switch-hitter leaders in home runs (69, sixth), RBI (285, tied for fifth), doubles (133, second), hits (571, sixth) and runs scored (297, seventh). Over that span, his 69 home runs rank seventh in the majors among middle infielders. Cabrera turned the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history while playing second base for the Indians on May 12, 2008 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
42 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers Report to Spring Training