Texas Rangers rumors: Ben Zobrist could be dealt before the start of the season, according to Jon Morosi, who identifies the Rangers as a potential destination for the Rays' second baseman/COF.
Zobrist, who turns 34 in May, is a free agent after this season, and with the Rays seemingly shifting into more of a rebuilding mode, Morosi opines that it would make sense for them to go ahead and sell now on Zobrist.
While Zobrist has played all over the diamond, his primary positions have been second base and the corner outfield spots, and while the Rangers could plug him in at left field (allowing Shin-Soo Choo to move back to right field), he might be a better fit for a team that is looking for a second baseman. Zobrist bat has fallen off in the last couple of years -- after sporting an 829 OPS from 2008-12, he put up a 756 OPS in 2013 and a 749 OPS in 2014. That sort of production plays better at second base than in left field.
Of course, the other issue is that the Rangers have been reluctant to part with significant talent for a one year rental for 2015. That could be because the front office wants to see how Choo, Prince Fielder, and others look after coming back from injury before committing to short-term upgrades, or it could be because the front office agrees with Drew Fairservice, who says the Rangers are a "bad team" whose window is closed (I tend to think the front office leans towards the former view).
Zobrist would be a nice addition to the 2015 Rangers, and at $7.5M, he wouldn't break the budget. Nevertheless, I expect the price, in terms of prospects, to land Zobrist will be steep, and the Rangers will probably look elsewhere, rather than part with the talent necessary to make this deal. Still, its one of those things worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks...