Baseball, when it comes down to it, is a business. No, not the ticket sales, ridiculously overpriced concessions or merchandise or the king’s ransom someone will put up for an autograph. The aspect of baseball that follows business logic more than any other is the hot stove. And just as the most basic aspect of business is supply and demand, it transfers right over to the offseason. So today, as a few select teams watched Asdrubal Cabrera, one of the only proven middle infielders go off the market, the demand for another infielder was significantly raised. And as Tampa Bay has a surplus of middle infielders, as Cabrera joined a crowded Rays infield with Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar, Logan Forsythe and Nick Franklin the Rays can afford to part ways with one. The one that has been most frequently mentioned is Ben Zobrist.
It’s easy to see why any team with a hole at second, shortstop or even right field would be interested in Zobrist.
Zobrist is able to hold up one of the hardest ends of the bargain as a baseball player: consistency. In every season that he has played more than 140 games in, he has batted an average of .270, and only fell below the .269 mark once, in 2010. He has proved that he can hit more than 20 home runs, as he did it in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012. He consistently scores over 70 runs, bats in over 70 and goes 5.49 at bats between striking out.
In case you’ve noticed, Ben Zobrist is a manager’s and general manager’s dream. Now that he’s the best middle infielder on the market, Zobrist’s value has skyrocketed, and according to an article by JP Morosi, “the Rays financial circumstances dictate that they listen to offers on virtually their entire roster – particularly before players enter free agency, which the 33-year-old Zobrist will do after the upcoming season.”
Morosi also pointed out that Zobrist is the most valuable position player plausibly available on the market with a 5.7 WAR that tops the list of free agents and trade candidates. Plus, his versatility makes him interesting to countless teams.
The most likely suitors are the Nationals, Mets, Rangers, Cubs, Reds or Giants.
The team that looks like the best fit for Zobrist is the Washington Nationals. Not only would they give him the best opportunity to win out of all the other teams excepting San Francsico, Zobrist would fit perfectly in the lineup, as he would fill in the only true offensive hole in the Nationals’ lineup and be given the chance to drive in the heavy hitters towards the back of the lineup.
Over his career, Zobrist has hit .264/.354/.429 (117 OPS+) with 511 RBI and 114 home runs.