The weather is getting ready to heat up, and so is baseball season. We are all in full swing now, and just as that begins the MLB July 31 trade deadline is fast approaching. The Athletics have been pegged as sellers at the deadline for weeks now, and teams have already come calling about specific players. Now that it seems the A’s might be back in the swing of Green Collar Baseball, Billy Beane will certainly be looking to bolster his lineup to make a good summer push and propel his club into the post season.
Utility man Ben Zobrist has been on the Cubs radar for several weeks. This would be the most obvious of the A’s trade options, as Zobrist carries an affordable salary of $7.5 million, will be a free agent next season, and it remains to be seen if the team can afford to re-up him. If we’re following standard trends, it’s highly unlikely. According to CBS Sports, the Nationals, Yankees, Cubs, and Mets have all shown interest in Zobrist. We’d all like to think Chicago would be his choice destination, since it would re-unite him with manager Joe Maddon. A’s general manager might demand a heavy return due to the fact he traded one of baseball’s top prospects, Addison Russel, in the now failed Jon Lester experiment.
Zobrist’s stats are not great, but factor in the month he missed due to knee surgery, and the .205 average with 2 home runs and 14 RBI’s in just 26 games played is respectable enough. He is one of the most unique targets on the market, as he can play nearly every position on the field, including the middle infield and both corner outfield positions. Of contending teams, the Yankees and Mets are both teams that could use help in these very positions, especially in the outfield.
The Red Sox are poised to be looking as buyers at the deadline. They made some major moves during the off-season, few of which seem to be panning out at the moment. Specifically, they looked forward to having one of the strongest starting rotations in the game, but so far it has been a mess. Along with targeting Cole Hamels, the Red Sox have been mentioned as potential suitors for comeback star Scott Kazmir.
Along with Kazmir, there have been reports that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in the services of A’s reliever Tyler Clippard. This is a trade the A’s should consider making first and foremost, since he carries a contract that takes up over 10% of the teams payroll, and there is no real reason to keep him around. While Clippard is having an off year, but his current ERA of 3.08 is good enough to improve several teams, including the Jays, who’s bullpen carries a collective ERA of 3.56 in a season where they’ve finally found themselves contending.