Oakland Acquires Escobar, Zobrist for Jaso and Prospects

Because this deal was reported in its entirety only, like, six minutes ago, the purpose of this post is less to examine Saturday’s trade between Oakland and Tampa Bay with any great depth and more just to announce that it has, in fact, happened.

Below are the details with each player’s projected WAR total for 2015 (prorated to 600 plate appearances), plus both the number of years and dollars remaining on the relevant player’s respective contract.

Oakland receives:

Yunel Escobar — 1.9 WAR600 / 2 years / $13 million
Ben Zobrist — 3.8 WAR600 / 1 year / $7.5 million

Tampa Bay receives:

John Jaso — 1.4 WAR600 / 1 year / $3.3 million*
Boog Powell — -0.7 WAR600 / 6 years / Min x 3, Arb x 3
Daniel Robertson — 0.2 WAR600 / 6 years / Min x 3, Arb x 3

*Matt Swartz’s projected arbitration salary for 2015.

What’s apparent, first of all, is that the A’s have likely improved the 2015 edition of their club. Escobar and Zobrist would seemingly replace Marcus Semien and Eric Sogard at shortstop and second base, respectively. Semien and (maybe also) Sogard, meanwhile, replace whomever was likely to occupy the utility position. Steamer’s projection for Semien is actually quite optimistic (2.3 WAR), although there are reasonable questions to be asked of Semien’s defensive competence at shortstop. Now the latter can occupy a super utility-type role, minimizing the effect of ineffectiveness or injury. Zobrist, meanwhile, is roughly a two-win improvement over Sogard, and will likely spend some time in the outfield as well, giving the team necessary depth in left field that was lacking. Overall, the difference is probably about two or three wins, give or take, for roughly $10 million of extra payroll commitment in 2015.

With regard to the Rays, they will also feature a new middle infield in 2015. At the end of December, Jeff Sullivan considered the point of Asdrubal Cabrera as a free-agent acquisition for Tampa Bay. Mostly the point was: now the Rays can trade Escobar and/or Zobrist. Some combination of Cabrera and Nick Franklin are likely to play some combination of second base and shortstop. Neither have a great reputation at the latter, but both have played it before and are likely not to embarrass themselves or their families. Overall they probably concede about 1.5 or 2.0 wins to the combination of Escobar and Zobrist — again, mostly just because Zobrist is so good.

With regard to the prospects, Robertson (who enters his age-21 season) has exhibited an advanced offensive approach with non-negligible power. He’s played almost exclusively at shortstop as a minor leaguer, but might ultimately lack the range and agility to do so at an average major-league level. Powell, meanwhile, lacks nearly all of the tools, but has exhibited fantastic plate discipline at the minor-league level and can play an adequate center field, most likely. Robertson and Powell are projected to produce 3.4 WAR and 2.5 WAR, respectively, through their age-28 seasons, according to Chris Mitchell’s KATOH methodology.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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7 years ago

Why is Zobrist’s projected WAR so low? I was looking at his player page, and his projected value on defence seems way out of line from what he’s done for the last six years.

7 years ago
Reply to  jaysfan

Article, I think, is using ZIPs rather than Steamer, which is what you’ll see on his player page. Either way, both come in lower than what he’s done, which I’m assuming is just regression to the mean + he’ll be 34 next year.

Big Daddy V
7 years ago
Reply to  jaysfan

Depends on where he’s projected to play. If it’s primarily outfield then that’s a big drop in value right there. That’s just a guess though.