A’s trade adds instant middle infield


The A’s acquired two reliable starting middle infielders Saturday morning, dealing away an aging catcher and Daniel Robertson, one of the prospects who made trading Addison Russell palatable.

The piece that made it worthwhile for Oakland, shortstop Ben Zobrist, has the third highest WAR of any hitter since 2009. Infielder Yunel Escobar, who started 74 games at second base in 2014, also joins the A’s, both coming from Tampa Bay.

The pair are players entering their final phase of professional baseball. Escobar is 32 and Zobrist is 33, though their numbers have yet to wane much at all.

Escobar is a .276 career hitter in eight big league seasons with 69 home runs and 393 RBI. In 137 games and 476 at-bats with Tampa Bay in 2014, he had 7 home runs, 39 RBI and while hitting .258.

Zobrist hit .340 against left-handers in 2014, and a career .810 OPS against southpaws. His career splits also signal signs of endurance, with his .264 career average fairly consistent over nine seasons.

Departing Oakland is catcher John Jaso, outfield prospect Boog Powell and Robertson, with infielder Andy Parrino being designated for assignment.

Via Twitter, Robertson wrote:

Breaking it down simply, when friends asked what I thought of Jed Lowrie — a relative unknown to A’s fans before coming to town — the response was certainly positive.

Zobrist, though, is the best utility infielder in baseball. He compares to Derek Jeter as a fielder in his prime, and isn’t far behind Robinson Cano.

In fact, he’s the cheap-man’s Cano, since no team in baseball is poor.

The A’s are still without a powerful outfield, speed being the only true asset in current time. They’ve revamped the infield, a project which now looks like:

C Stephen Vogt / 1B Brett Butler or Ike Davis2B Zobrist / SS Eric Sogard, Escobar / 3B Marcus SemienBrett Lawrie

With only Sam Fuld, Josh Reddick, Craig Gentry and Coco Crisp, the A’s lineup is still missing the power threat absent since Yoenis Cespedes was dealt to Boston last July.

But for now, Oakland has a healthy mix of youth and veterans, and is a faster team that the one it was dismantled for.

Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.

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