Though the Rays have climbed out of the league cellar and no longer have the worst record in baseball, they are still expected to be sellers at the trade deadline. With ten days to go, Ben Zobrist is drawing significant interest and may be their most coveted trade chip.
As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote last week, the Giants are considered the team with the strongest interest in Zobrist, followed by the Reds and Mariners, who could each add a middle-of-the-order bat in the next ten days. San Francisco is known to be on the lookout for someone who can play second base to supplement Joe Panik and the aging Marco Scutaro.
More Rays rumors
More Rays rumors
Seattle has been engaged in active trade talks with the Rays for both Zobrist and David Price, as Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reported last week. They could park with Nick Franklin, who is considered expendable due to Brad Miller's status as the Mariners' shortstop of the future, and would likely have to part with top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker in any deal that sent both Zobrist and Price to Seattle. The Mariners have reportedly looked at right-handed bats like Marlon Byrd, Dayan Viciedo and Josh Willingham, but Zobrist's versatility and switch-hitting ability may make him the most attractive candidate.
The Reds have been pursuing Zobrist for a couple of weeks and are likely to intensify their pursuit of him now that second baseman Brandon Phillips will miss a significant amount of time with a thumb injury, according to reports. GM Walt Jocketty told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com that Zobrist was "a good name", meaning that he is probably at or near the top of the team's offensive wishlist as the deadline approaches.
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