The Rays are having a fire...sale. Maybe. Despite their recent success, the Rays are still staring at a near impossible deficit in the AL East, which means they're getting a ton of calls about every asset they have. We've known for a while that the Mariners and Rays have been playing phone tag over the past month, but most of the rumors have been associated with David Price, who the Mariners also coveted over the winter.
According to Marc Tompkin, the Mariners are in on the Ben Zobrist sweepstakes, which is welcome news to our own Michael Barr, who fawned over acquiring Zobrist back in June. Five days ago, Logan wrote about all of the Rays rumors himself, and while the source of that particular rumor focused on Price, he discussed what it would take to acquire Zobrist -- starting with Nick Franklin and going from there.
If you haven't read the two aforementioned articles, now's the time to do it. Zobrist doesn't fit the stereotypical need of the Mariners, that being a power-hitting right-handed outfielder, but he is a fantastic player controlled through 2015 at a very reasonable cost, $7.5 million. Zobrist makes the Mariners better, possibly significantly better, immediately. It doesn't matter where he plays. The M's have too many offensive holes to only focus on acquiring one type of player. Anybody that claims going after Zobrist is a waste of time and resources is, for lack of a better word, wrong. His flexibility would be tremendously valuable to a team with at least four or five major holes in the lineup.
Zobrist might not even be available. The Rays can easily choose to hold onto their core, considering they're all controlled, although Price will be crazy expensive, through next season. They'll have to be blown away by an offer, and given what the Rays have done to other teams in the past when trading away their soon-to-be expiring contracts, that's semi-terrifying. But it's at least encouraging to hear that the Mariners are going after good players instead of bad ones.