With the Athletics tanking and emerging as one of the most likely teams to hold a fire sale at the trade deadline, Ben Zobrist is drawing serious interest from multiple clubs around the league and could be one of the first major names to be dealt. According to reports, the Yankees and Nationals have joined the Cubs in the race to acquire Zobrist, who is a free agent at the end of the season.
The Yankees are interested in Zobrist due to their second-base issues, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and could also look to acquire Dustin Ackley from the Mariners as a backup option. The team has endured struggles from both Stephen Drew and Jose Pirela at second this season, and may use Zobrist as a fill-in at the position until prospect Rob Refsnyder is ready to be promoted.
In addition, the Nationals have reached out to the A's about a deal involving Zobrist, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, who notes that the talks are "preliminary" between the sides. Zobrist's versatility would allow him to fill in for the Nats in left field until the injured Jayson Werth returns later in the season, and then shift to his normal utility role once Werth returned to the lineup. The Nationals and Athletics have worked together on many trades over the last few years, so the strong relationship between general managers Billy Beane and Mike Rizzo may play a role in the Zobrist talks.
Zobrist's versatility makes him highly coveted around baseball, meaning that most contenders will likely make an effort to acquire him before the July 31 trade deadline. The aggressive posturing from the Cubs, Yankees and Nationals at this early point in the trade season signifies that the A's may be willing to move quickly as they begin their sale.