The Royals are reportedly pursuing Athletics infielder Ben Zobrist. Jeff Passan writes:
Ben Zobrist rage on among Royals leaders, the consensus leans toward: Go get him. And it should. Zobrist is the perfect fit for Kansas City in a number of ways, and if it takes a Sean Manaea or Miguel Almonte to get him, the Royals are pot committed enough that they ought push themselves all-in and try to ready themselves as best they can to do this year what they couldn’t last.
Royals beat writer Andy McCullough confirms the Royals are pursuing Zobrist.
Even with Johnny Cueto on board, don't think KC is done adding. Hearing they're expected to stay in on Ben Zobrist until the end.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) July 27, 2015
Forbes writer Anthony DiMoro says the Royals are pursuing him aggressively.
#Royals determined to land #Athletics Ben Zobrist in trade— Anthony DiMoro (@AnthonyDiMoro) July 27, 2015
The 34-year old Zobrist is in his first year with the Athletics after being acquired last winter with infielder Yunel Escobar from Tampa Bay for shortstop Daniel Robertson, outfielder Boog Powell, and catcher John Jaso. The switch-hitter can play all over the infield, including extensive time at shortstop. He has had a down year this year due to a left-knee injury, but is still hitting .268/.354/.447 with 6 HR 33 RBI with 0.8 rWAR. In ten Major League seasons with the Rays and Athletics, he has hit .268/.354/.430. He is a two-time All-Star who has been a 4.5 rWAR player in each of the last six seasons.
With the Royals, Zobrist could fill in largely at second base for the disappointing Omar Infante while also filling in for the outfield on occasion, playing third base against tough left-handed hitters, and even spelling shortstop Alcides Escobar on occasion. His plate discipline would also make him an ideal leadoff hitter, allowing Escobar to hit lower in the lineup. Zobrist earns $7.5 million this year, or about $3 million the remainder of the season, and is a free agent this winter. The Royals previously showed interest in Zobrist last summer and earlier this year.
Susan Slusser writes that Ben Zobrist will likely be one of the next Athletics players traded after the team dealt Scott Kazmir last week. The Nationals, Mets, and Cubs are all pursuing Zobrist as well, so there should be a competitive market for his services. The Royals will almost certainly make Raul Mondesi off-limits as well as Kyle Zimmer but players like Sean Manaea, Miguel Almonte, Bubba Starling, Erik Skoglund, or Jorge Bonifacio could be in play.