The perfect fit and the trade that will (probably) never happen

Tanaka dominates Mariners, leads Yankees to 4-2 win
Martino: Yankees have verbal agreements with three international free agents
(Mike Carlson/Getty)
(Mike Carlson/Getty)

Now that the season is roughly 40% complete and we’ve had more than two months to evaluate the Yankees, their needs are obvious. They need another starter and another bat, in simplest terms. You can argue they need two starters and two bats, really. Specifically, they need a veteran innings eater and either an infielder (either second or third base works) or right fielder. Alfonso Soriano looks toast and Carlos Beltran‘s bone spur means he’s stuck at DH for the foreseeable future.

Digging up trade candidates these days is not easy because of the second wildcard spot, which keeps most teams in contention until August or even September. Even if they’re not really in it, they can still sell the idea that they are in it, like the Yankees did last year. All you need to do is stay close enough to keep fans excited. Selling off veteran players may be the best baseball move, but driving fans away has a very real and negative impact. Ask the Astros.

As of today, the division rival Tampa Bay Rays have the worst record in baseball. By a lot. They currently have the worst record (25-42) and second worst run differential (-52) in baseball, three games worse than the Cubs. The next worst AL team is the Red Sox at 29-36. Tampa was recently shutout in 31 straight innings and they’ve been a disaster this season. I thought they’d be good because the Rays have been annoyingly good since 2008, but the magic finally wore off. The pitching well dried up too.

Because they’re so bad, there are already rumblings the Rays could look to trade some veterans and restock the young player cupboard. David Price is the big name for obvious reasons. He’s making huge money ($14M) and will be a free agent after next season, and there’s no way Tampa will a) let him walk for just a draft pick, or b) be able to afford to sign him long-term. Expect a ton of Price rumors in the coming weeks. Others like Matt Joyce, David DeJesus, Jeremy Hellickson (once healthy), and Joel Peralta could be shopped as well.

Then there’s Ben Zobrist, the versatile switch-hitter who seems to play a different position every other game. He is the team’s third highest paid player at $7M and his contract includes a very affordable $7.5M club option for 2015 that will surely be picked up. Like Price, the Rays probably won’t let him walk for nothing more than a draft and probably won’t be able to sign him long-term. Even if they could, he’s already 33, and they might not want to re-sign him after next year.

Zobrist, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, is that “perfect fit” I referred to in the post title. He can play both second base and right field, two positions of need in the Bronx, and he’s a switch-hitter with some power and a lot of patience. His walk rate has always been strong (10.6% this year, 12.1% from 2011-13) and while his power production has dipped to a .121 ISO this year (.176 from 2011-13), it may be partially explained by the dislocated thumb he suffered sliding into a base earlier this season. We’ve seen Zobrist play against New York for a long time, we know he’s a quality player.

(Scott Iskowitz/Getty)
(Scott Iskowitz/Getty)

The appeal for the Yankees is obvious. Zobrist can not only play second and right, but he plays them both well and can shuttle between the two positions on a near daily basis without suffering at the plate. I don’t think everyone understands just how hard that is. He’s also a true switch-hitter without a platoon split historically, he walks, he has some pop, he steals some bases, he’s familiar playing the shift, and he’s very familiar with the AL East and those grueling late-season battles for postseason position. And the contract is more than reasonable. It’s a bargain, really.

I don’t need to spend any more time explaining why Zobrist would be perfect for the Yankees, right? The real question is whether the Rays would be open to trading him within the division, and, if they are, what they would want in return. The last time Tampa made a notable intra-division trade was … well, never, really. The three-team Joe Kennedy/Mark Hendrickson/Justin Speier deal with the Blue Jays and Rockies in 2003 is the biggest by far. The only trade they’ve made with the Yankees came in 2006, when Tampa sent Nick Green to New York for cash. That was before Andrew Friedman became GM.

The Blue Jays have made it clear they are unwilling to trade impact players within the division but the Rays have not really done that. They seem like the type of front office that would be open to trading a player anywhere as long as they received the greatest possible return, but who really knows? Zobrist figures to be in high demand (Mariners? Tigers? Dodgers? Giants? Blue Jays? Braves? Athletics?) so they shouldn’t have a problem digging up high-end offers. They’ll be able to get full value and deal him out of the division, so it’s the best of both worlds.

The Rays have shown a tendency to seek big trade packages with a lot of throw-ins — five players for Matt Garza, four players for Jason Bartlett, five players for Alex Torres (plus a prospect) — and I assume the same would be true with Zobrist. Victor Martinez, another solidly above-average player who was traded a year and a half prior to free agency, was dealt from the Indians to the Red Sox for a young MLB ready player (Justin Masterson) plus a top ten (Nick Hagadone) and top 20 (Bryan Price) prospect in the system. That seems like an okay framework for Zobrist.

What could the Yankees give the Rays along those lines? Geez, I don’t know. John Ryan Murphy, Manny Banuelos, Jose Ramirez, plus two throw-ins? Add another playing coming to the Yankees as needed? It won’t be Austin Romine and Vidal Nuno, that’s for sure. Figuring out an acceptable trade package is something for the front offices to determine. Talking about them is part of the fun of being a fan but ultimately we have no idea how these teams value these players. Based on everything I’ve seen in my years watching baseball, how we view players and how teams value them is often very different.

If the Rays do decide to sell — given their place in the standings and generally pro-active approach, it seems very likely they will sell — the Yankees should make a call about Zobrist because he’d be a great addition to the roster and help address several needs at once (offense, defense, second base/right field) both this year and next year. Several other teams will do the same and that will probably put the Yankees at a negotiating disadvantage with their division rival. Zobrist would be a perfect fit for the Yankees and chances are they have little shot of actually getting him.

Tanaka dominates Mariners, leads Yankees to 4-2 win
Martino: Yankees have verbal agreements with three international free agents
  • MB923

    They should sell David Price (no I know it won’t be to the Yankees) ASAP. Just like RAJ should have traded Cliff Lee earlier in the year when he had the chance. God forbid if something happened to Price, Rays would be stuck with him. Not that it’s a bad thing, but his value goes down.

    As far as Zobrist goes, I’d surely love to get him, but I can’t picture the Yankees going hard after him or for the Rays to even make a phone call with the Yanks.

    As the title says, the trade that will (probably) never happen.

  • TWTR

    I woukd not trade important young players for Zobrist. Moves like that put a ceiling on this franchise’s upside over the next few years. They aren’t that good and should look to acquire young players, not trade them.

    • I’m One

      I generally agree with your position on this, but 1) prospects need to be used for something. They should either have an identified place on the big league team or be used to gain other assets 2) not all prospects pan out, so trading some younger players is not always a bad idea.

      However, I’d be very careful with who I’m giving up for someone on the wrong side of 30 that is not a star (still a very solid player that provides an upgade at positions of need) that only has 1.5 years of control left. Specifically, not sure I’d be willing to give up both SKJRM & ManBan in a trade for Zobrist, unless the team felt he was the 1 missing piece to put them over the top and truely make this team a World Series Championship caliber team. I’m not seeing that in this case.

      • ALZ

        Right, and I think the fact that people overlook is service time. If I’m getting 3 years or more (Like Granderson) that is one thing, but if you are only getting a year and a half or less that is a hard situation. Each prospect you are talking 6.5 years of playing time before they leave, so if even one pans out halfway decent you have them for 4X as long.

        Things have changed a lot. You can no longer just build your team through free agency, and trade your prospects to fill out whatever gaps you have. I’m not looking for future stars from all our prospects. If we can get some at least halfway decent players, that means they can stop having the Soriano/Ichiro/Roberts situation. And that saves you ~15MM to spend on an actually good player at another position.

        • The Great Gonzo

          “Each prospect you are talking 6.5 years of playing time before they leave, so if even one pans out halfway decent you have them for 4X as long.”

          And if each one turns into a pumpkin, you are left with your dick in your hand.

          And while I agree with your point that you cannot build your team with only FAs and trades, when you CANNOT fill the obvious team needs with your farm system (and you intend to win a playoff spot) you have to use some chips to make the moves. That is what Mike is talking about here.

          If you want to see all kids all the time, go to Houston or Kansas City. That seems to be working out aces for them

          • I’m One

            If you want to see all kids all the time …

            I don’t think ALZ is saying that at all, and I’m certainly not advocating that, however we’re just not on board with giving up that much young (and still not fully developed) talanet for 1.5 years of Zobrist. From what we’ve seen, SKJRM has the potential to match what Zobrist brings (although it might take another year or so) from a win perspective and providing the Yankees find a way to get him in the line up. Sure, he won’t provide the positional flexibility, but which would you rather have 2 or 3 years from now, the 1.5 years they got from Zobrist or Murphy (plus others) or whatever else he might have brought in trade? My pick is Murphy +.

          • ALZ

            And those 2 teams don’t run a $200MM payroll. I’m not saying go all kids, but rather use them as inexpensive players when you are all tapped out.

      • Wolfgang’s Fault

        JR Murphy, Manban, Ramirez, PLUS 2 throw-ins, for Zobrist, under the present circumstances? Is Mike off his meds or what? Just flat out never do this! Ever!!! Just had Gary Tuck say he’s never coached a better catching prospect than JR Murphy and you want to just give him away for a 33 y.o. utility guy, though quality utility guy he may be? No freaking way! This organization needs pitching in the worst way, & just hand over Ramirez who’s already on the 25 man roster and has the potential to be something special, and ManBan, a left-hander w/loads of still untapped potential who’s still recovering from his surgery last year? These three players potentially, have the ability to become foundation type players on a future Yankee pennant winning team. No guarantees but it’s certainly not out of the question. You trade any one of these three guys, you have to get commensurate youth w/talent, or a stud guy who puts the team over the top to not only compete for a playoff spot but compete for a WS championship. Zobrist doesn’t guarantee you anything close, & isn’t enough of an upgrade over anyone in this lineup or on this roster to make such a system depleting move. Uh-uh, no way, no how. David Price, on the other hand, I’m willing to talk.

    • nycsportzfan

      I don’t mind trading for a vet player but Zobrist is trending downwards. I mean hes a 246BA hitter and a career 246BA hitter. Hes kinda overrated.

      I’d rather go after Aaron Hill personally.

      • nycsportzfan

        career 262BA hitter.

  • The Other Mister D

    I still feel that this team is too much a long shot for this season to trade off future talent for win-now 30+ year old vets. That aside, I think that even if the Yankees went all in on Zobrist (or Price or Lee or anyone else) that there’s just too many other teams that a) could use that player, b) can put together a better package and c) will be more desperate to win NOW than the “win always” Yankees.

  • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    What? No Refsnyder?

  • RM

    Will never happen, just wishful thinking.

    • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

      Which Mike said in the title and text.

  • Frank

    You’re right about one thing- that trade will never happen. And if it did, I’d replace Sanchez for Murphy. Meanwhile, the Rays, who already have a very good farm system, can tank this season and get the first pick in next year’s draft or at minimum, a top 5 pick. Their pipeline of good, young players will continue to flow.

    • Jersey Joe

      I’m not sure the Rays will enter another long period of rebuilding following their disappointing seasons; I think it will be more of a shake-up.

    • ALZ

      The problem is that the Rays do not have a good farm system. Everybody has them worse than the Yankees, who were put in the 20’s by many rankers.

      • Scott

        I concur with you ALZ,
        the Rays HAD a good system. When you stink for a decade (I’m a broken record with this mantra but it irritates me that people think the Rays FO is so good b/c their farm system is so good), you pick in the top 5 every year, you are going to hit on several good prospects.
        Then these players start making it to the bigs. They have success, the Rays win, and all of a sudden they aren’t drafting top 5, nor top 10, a couple years they were drafting in the late 20s. Now they haven’t hit on nearly as many players. Because they don’t have a ton of money they can’t cover up mistakes, nor injuries. I posted in last night’s game recap that I believe the Rays are headed for several .500 seasons the next 3-5 years.
        If they can trade Price for 5-6 good young players, they can buoy their farm system for another year or two, but their success is going to hurt them because of their lack of financial power. Their best players are traded before the Rays have to pay them. In return they get some prospects but not nearly as many of their prospects are panning out as in previous years.

        People bitch about the Yanks not having good drafts, nor developing players, well draft in the 28th, 29th, or 30th position since the late 90’s and this is what you get. The Rays are now seeing how it is to draft like the Yankees.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      That flow done stopped, son.

    • Get Phelps Up
  • Nick

    Cervelli for Zobrist and Price! get it done Cash

    • John Cee


      Imagine if Cash pulled that deal off? His face would be on the WS rings…

      • I’m One

        But if he doesn’t pull it off, clearly he failed!

  • BSwink23

    There always seems to be the assumption that an AL East team won’t make a trade within the division, but it rarely seems to be mentioned that maybe the Yankees shouldn’t and/or wouldn’t make the trade within the division. They’d be getting a rental while potentially making the Rays better in the future. I’d say the Rays would benefit more than the Yankees in a deal for Zobrist; the Yankees already have them beat this year, so why would the Rays care if they made them better for the rest of this year, and the Rays would also POTENTIALLY be getting better in a couple of years while making the Yankees POTENTIALLY worse. I’m not sure that the Rays not making this move is the biggest hurdle.

    • Mike HC

      If the Rays were able to unload a declining, expensive (for them) 33 year old, and nab 3 young, cheap players from a division rival with loads of talent that are ready to contribute right away, they would be beside themselves.

      • 56 Mick

        Truth is, we can’t fault this post, since there is just a dearth of 2nd basemen in the league at the moment. A position that dried up relatively fast. A few years ago there was a severe shortage of short stops and not there are actually quite a few and several that could be available, although not a position the Yanks can move around this season. I just scoured the entire league and I can’t really come up with a single player that could be made available that makes sense. Altuve would be really nice, but he’s another non power guy.

        • Mike HC

          I disagree with you here. There are actually a ton of really good 2nd baseman in the league. Cano, Dozier, Gordon, Altuve, Murphy, Kinsler, Rendon, Utley, Kipnis, Pedroia, Zobrist, Hill and there are more. Solarte!!! ha

          But I don’t “fault” the post. I’m not even sure Axisa is saying he is doing that deal. It was a good conversation starter.

          • 56 Mick

            Outside of Murphy and Altuve and maybe, Gordon, not a single one of those players is a good match for the Yanks or on the better part of their career. Kipnis is a nice player for sure, but not available at any point. Cano is the best of the bunch, but that ship sailed. So again, very slim picking at this position right now.

            • BSwink23

              Personally, I think that Solarte is our answer, and that we should be looking at 3rd base, but that’s my personal preference. But I don’t want my point to get blurred…why would the Yankees trade within the division? I don’t like the Zobrist trade at all, but if he were with the White Sox or Royals or Twins I would at least consider it if it would push this team over-the-top (which I don’t believe it would). But giving that package, or something close, to the Rays? A team that they’ll play in their division, and a ton more times per year than a team out of their division? I don’t want to even take a chance that I’d be making them a better team in the future for a rental. Most of the “within the division” trades discussed here are under the assumption that the Yankees would do it but the other team would not. I’m just not sure that’s really accurate.

              • emac2

                Thank you.

                We are stacked at 2nd!

                the problem is that we have them playing at 2nd, 3rd, 1st and are thinking about DH and outfield.

                We need to be dumping them and getting corner players or the power everyone whines about will never come.

                • Mike HC

                  I’m with you in theory. But these days, third base and second base are far closer in offensive production than in past history. We are probably just as likely to find an offensive upgrade at second as we are at third these days.

                  And we really only have one legitimate starter for both of the positions. Solarte. And that is kind of tentative too.

                  • emac2

                    Totally true. That doesn’t argue my specific point because Zobrist isn’t an offensive upgrade but 3rd base is a wasteland.

                    The specifics of the Yankees situation is that Solarte can’t play 3rd. He and Refsnyder are going to have to compete for 2nd next year. I would be bummed if we got an average 2nd basemen that forced us to use Solarte at 3rd and Ref in the outfield thus weakening 3 positions.

                    • Mike HC

                      I’m with you. I don’t think Zobrist is the answer, especially for the price Axisa put on him. And 2nd definitely seems like the spot Solarte should play. Plus Ref at AAA. If there is a reasonable offer out there for a good second baseman, I do think we might have to pull the trigger though. It is all in the details though.

            • Mike HC

              You said there was a dearth in the league. I agree that really good second baseman aren’t in abundance in the trade market.

        • Scott

          That’s why Refsnyder needs to continue to hit and be called up. Then the Yanks wouldn’t have to trade for Zobrist.

    • ALZ

      Right, I have often thought this is the case too. If Rays are selling then they aren’t in it. They will just improve their draft pick situation this year, and hurt the competition in the long run. I think part of it though has to do with the fans, they don’t want to have that player’s production rubbed in their face 18 times a year.

  • Jersey Joe

    This will never happen. :(

  • John Cee

    There is no doubt Zobrist is a versatile, quality player and will most likely remain so through his option year. There is no way I’d pull the trigger on such a deal for at least two reasons:

    1) At the very least the Yanks need to try Refsnyder and it looks like that is precisely their plan.

    2) Zobrist does not make the Yanks a playoff team and his RF value is mitigated if Beltran shows he can hit and stand in RF without his elbow imploding or exploding or falling off.

    • I’m One

      if Beltran shows he can hit and stand in RF without his elbow imploding or exploding or falling off

      Not sure I’d take the chance on this. Still not in on Zobrist (price dependent, of course).

      • John Cee

        True, Beltran has proven fragile…which is, of course, a given at his age.
        If the yanks could land Zobrist for Cervelli plus, ok, do it. Minimal impact to the system, but it won’t happen.
        I would not, however, empty the farm for a nice player who will not put the yanks over the top.

        • The Great Gonzo

          HE FELL OVER A WALL. That doesn’t make him fragile. I am sure you’d be out for just as long if you stubbed your toe on your coffee table.

          • fmb2345

            Beltran has a bone spur in his elbow most likely caused by by degenerative arthritis from years of swing a bat and throwing it isn’t something that’s just gonna heal up and makes him a likely injury risk. At some point it will require surgery. Falling over the wall didn’t help him but its not the root cause of this problem.

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    Refsynder will be a better hitter than Zobrist, albeit with worse defense. But can’t he also play RF and 2B? He seems to be an ideal option not too far down the road.

    • mitch

      that would be pretty exciting if Refsnyder ends up a better hitter than Zobrist.

      • I’m One

        Agree. I’d love for that to happen and I’d be willing to wait a season or 2 (or 3) due to the cost and years of control.

      • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

        Exactly. Zobrist has a career OPS+ of 116 over six full seasons and parts of four others.

        There is nearly no AA player (Refsnyder has one game at AAA) that you can count on having that kind of production over time. You can hope for hit, but you can’t count on it.

        To be clear, I like Refsnyder a lot and hope he turns into a good MLB player. But we have to be realistic about prospects. Many fail, even ones with much stronger pedigrees than Refsnyder.

        • The Great Gonzo

          THIS. The last guy in Trenton who was supposed to be “The Next {Whoever-The-Fuck}” was The Great Jesus Montero… so, yeah

        • emac2

          What a ridiculous statement.

          You make a horrible point based solely on the fact that you can’t count on a AA player to be a major league pl;ayer.

          Zobrist is old and bad. He is at the end of his career and that is who we get. young zobrist is no longer available.

          Zobrist from here and Refsnyder from here is much ore likely to favor Refsnyder than Zobrist even though Zobrist is already proven. You can count on Zobrist to produce replacement level numbers. You can’t count on Refsnyder to do that but replacement level has no value and Refsnyder is the only one of the two with any real potential to be above average from here.

          That means Ref is the only one of the two that could possibly have value

      • ALZ

        And odds are he won’t, but the they can keep him for over 6 years, whereas Zobrist is simply a year and a half, and then you are right back to square 1.

  • Kosmo

    Yanks should have signed Morales. 7.5 million. No strings attached.

    My sense is Zobrist´s best years are behind him. He´d be to costly anyway. Next season Zobrist will be 34. Pass.

    • The Great Gonzo

      COMPLETELY different player. He woulda (maybe) addressed one of the needs this team has: another bat. Doesn’t fix the pitcher situation or the 2B/3B situation or the potential RF situation.

      Almost as if, this is an invalid point as to push your own agenda. Interesting…

      • Kosmo

        No one is pushing an agenda especially a baseball one. Get a perspective on what´s important ! BTW You never make invalid points ?

        Morales signing would have added a middle of the lineup hitter and lengthened the lineup.
        Zobrist IMO doesn´t address any longterm need. He´s a 33 year old player and as I said above it might be his best years are behind him. He´s be a costly short term fix. Morales didn´t cost much and if he fails he could have been dealt at the trade deadline or walked. No harm done.
        David Price ? This season he´s essentially been a league average pitcher at 14 million. Underwhelming. Has publicly stated he´s not interested in pitching for NY.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Murphy and Phelps are the contemporary Melky and IPK, right?

    A year and a half of Zobrist? I’d part with a catcher and some spare parts. I still believe in ManBan too much. This will never happen unless the haul is astronomical.

    • Jersey Joe

      I don’t think Phelps ever had as potential as IPK; Murphy is close, but not quite at the level of production that Melky gave us in 2006 or 2007.

      Phelps would have to be swapped out as the centerpiece of the trade.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Not about potential. It’s about how often they get brought up as trade fodder. This is how memes are made.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I actually think Murphy isn’t that far below Melky in terms of prospect value, thanks to playing catcher.

  • ALZ

    I’m not buying trying to get a wildcard. It is such a waste going for that. If we think we can get the division then go for that. Don’t buy if you can only get the wildcard.

    • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

      I understand your point.

      But in June, I’m not sure there is a difference. Are you sold on the Blue Jays keeping this up the rest of the year? If so, then yeah, I guess you can separate going for the division or wild card. But to most, the A.L. East is still wide open. There is no team without flaws.

      • ALZ

        I don’t buy the Jays. I still feel NYY can get the division. I hate the thought though that if we don’t get division we can aim for WC. Look, NYY has been contender for 20 years, every other team in division has gone in cycles for that time period. I don’t think we need to unload prospects because this year is our window like other teams. Yankees are in it, and can well afford to keep their players.

  • Mike HC

    Hell no would I trade John Ryan Murphy, Manny Banuelos and Jose Ramirez for Zobrist. Hell fucking no.

    • BigGuy

      NO ! Too much for a guy like Zobrist. For what? To maybe get a wildcard?

  • Joe C`

    Not really sure we need two pitchers. What we need is to get our starting pitchers to get back healthy. We need CC to return form the Disabled List. We need Pineda to return to the disabled list. If we can get that it will be like getting two starting pitchers in a trade without giving anything.

    As far as the hitting goes, the biggest thing that we need is to get everyone hitting like the back of their baseball cards. If we get that the offense should start to perform with consistancy. If we can get that then I don’t see where we need a major bat. I’m sorry I just don’t.

    What I would like to see is for the Yankees to bring in another reliever and a backup first basemen. Maybe a Grant Balfour to be a setup man, which he seems to be best suited for, and Quite possibly James Loney to back up Tex at first. But as you said I don’t think that would happen because I don’t think the Rays will be willing to trade with the Yankees.

    • ALZ

      I don’t think they will get Loney to backup. He signed a nice contract, and he is a starter, why would they get him to sit on the bench 5 days a week?

      Pitching though they just need to get healthy. If CC and Pineda are close to returning you have those 2 plus Kuroda/Tanaka. That means you have to pick one Phelps/Nuno/Whitley, and then they can cut Huff, and have one your guys long relief. If they can get healthy the rotation needs no help, Phelps/Nuno/Whitley aren’t good 3/4/5, but they should be fine #5.

  • Michael K.

    So trade a potential top-half-of-the-rotation starter, a future back-end-of-the-bullpen reliever and a potentially solid MLB catcher for a guy who’s past his prime/on the wrong side of 30 and isn’t likely to put this team over the top?

    Not only no, but hell no.

  • TheRealGreg

    Guess who’s back?

  • 56 Mick

    Sweet Jesus; John Ryan, Manny, Ramirez + 2 for Ben Zobrist? Thanks for the writing the post, but way way WAYYYYYYYyYYYYYyYYYYYyYYYYYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy overvaluing that guy. He’s Kelly Johnson basically. Lateral move and we give up all that..

    • 56 Mick

      Wait, was that for both Price and Zobrist? Maybe then I would consider it, but still, I’m not liking something about Price and his velocity being down and his attitude has never impressed me. Let’s look elsewhere to fill both needs.

    • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

      Kelly Johnson (career): .252/.333/.426 OPS+ 102, wRC+ 103, UZR/150 (at 2B) -1.4

      Ben Zobrist (career): .262/.352/.431 OPS+ 116, wRC+ 117, UZR/150 (at 2B) +12.6

      So, in a word, no.

      Look, I like Johnson and don’t know why he isn’t playing more, and I’m not sure this Yankee team should be dealing a haul of young players for one offensive upgrade.

      But at the same time, let’s not over-hug the prospects. Some make it, lots don’t. And let’s be honest, the odds are none of the names being mentioned will have Zobrist’s career success.

      • Mike HC

        We aren’t buying Zobrist’s career though. We are buying the second half of a down year at 33 and then his 34 year old season. And the guys we would be dealing are guys that can and are helping the team this year. So we would not only be losing future production, but production this year as well.

        • 56 Mick

          Exactly and their offensive numbers are very VERY similar. There is an obvious difference with the defensive metric, but not one that validates sending a package of very good young players for 6 months.

  • yanksfandownsouth

    Zobrist is a nice accessory piece, but really isn’t worth much more than a salary dump at this point in his past prime career. Certainly, he’s not worth any prospect the Yanks are high on.

  • Whattheheckdoiknow

    Mike, you’re obviously more informed and knowledgeable, in the ways of baseball, than most. However, your disdain for prospects is coming through clearer than ever…. And it seems magnified with Yankee prospects. Cashman begrudgingly gave up a lower level prospect for Soriano (plus Cubs ate a ton of cash), what makes you think he’d “give” that much for 1.5 years of Mr. Zobrist ? Show our prospects a little more love Mr. Axisa.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Hypotheticals are hard.

    • Preston

      Because Zobrist is a much, much better player.

      • Whattheheckdoiknow

        Better, ok…. But much, much ? Soriano was arguably the best Yankee for large stretches last year, albeit, he’s currently in pumpkin status. So you’d make that deal ?

        • Preston

          Since he came up in 2008 Ben Zobrist has the 7th highest WAR in baseball. Doubling Soriano’s production. He’s also 5 years younger than Soriano.

  • whitey

    Could this get done for Igawa and Melky?

  • Tyler

    This is exactly not what the Yanks should do. At some point we need to stop trading young talent for 33 year olds. Granted none of the guys Mike mentioned are even close to being untouchable, but the Yankees are not 1 or 2 guys away from being a powerhouse. Every team needs quality youth, but we need quantity youth as well due to the teams’ age. If deals are going to get made, and one is going to for a SS at some point this calendar year, it better be for a young player. This is besides the point, but Murphy, Banuelos and Ramirez for Zobrist is an insane overpay and exactly what the Rays would want. Again none of those guys are studs but I don’t think it’s the right strategy for the team at this juncture. Way too many holes to fill on this roster.

  • D$1184

    Granted, it’s not the same thing but I’ve owned Zobrist multiple times over the past few years on my fantasy teams and he never stays long. He’s prone to long cold spells–kind of like Soriano but capable of covering more positions, competently and considerably less power. He’s a bottom-of-the-order hitter. Not the kind of hitter this team needs/should trade its few valuable trade chips for.

    • Preston

      You obviously don’t play in an OBP league. This is why fantasy baseball is not the same as real baseball.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Obviously his fantasy leagues do not count #Grit.

  • emac2

    This is such a bad idea I should take back my nice comments from the other day. Better be a good dotf tonight!

    How can you look at this team and decide Zobrist is the answer to any question other than what player might help a little bit for a really short time but cost a boatload, hurt the team in the long run and make a main rival better.

    Worst proposal ever.

    • Oy

      The New York Yankees are a team capable of a playoff run. The New York Yankees have a hole at 2B and a hole at RF. The Tampa Bay Rays are not a team capable of making it to the play offs this year. The Tampa Bay Rays have a player named Ben Zobrist, who can play 2B and RF.

      Is that too hard to understand?

      Ben Zobrist has been one of the most underrated players in the game during the last three years. His fWAR during the last 3 years: 6.3, 6.8, 6.4. He is having a down year, which is exactly why it’s realistic for Tampa to consider a subpar package of JRM, Banuelos and Ramirez. If he was on pace for a 5 WAR year this year, Sanchez would’ve taken the place of JRM. He is owed peanuts ofr this and next year.

      • emac2

        I can understand your words but you seem to think that because you say them it makes them facts. The Yankees don’t have a hole at second base.


        These guys are all second basemen. How many do you think are needed?

        The team is short on pitching and Banuelos and Ramirez could play very important roles this year. You want to trade positions of immediate need for an older, average, slumping player at our deepest position.

        Is this your idea of a rebuild or do you think this is a championship caliber team that needs a defensive upgrade more than young players?

        That doesn’t even sound sane to me.

        Is that too hard to understand?

        • Oy

          You are out of your mind if you think that Yakees are fine at 2B.

          Solarte- has played 53 games at 3B this year and is the team’s primary 3B.

          Roberts and Johnson- have combined for NEGATIVE -0.1 WAR this year.

          Refsnyder- has played ONE game at AAA level.

          Ramirez projects to be a reliever/back end of rotation. Yankees have Phelps and Nuno. Murphy is blocked by McCann. Banuelos is a lottery ticket. They are not immediate impact players.

          Zobrist would make immediate impact for this year and next, aiding 2B and RF as needed.

        • Oy

          Yankees second basemen combined for -0.2 WAR this year, ranking them 27th in all of baseball. They are ranked 24th in RF WAR with -0.4 WAR. Yep, this team has no needs at those positions. Roberts and Johnson are gonna turn it around and Refsnyder will wreak havoc in September.

  • IamtheWalrus

    In similar news; The hottest woman in the bar is a perfect fit for me. Too bad she almost certainly doesn’t see things the same way. If only it took just one to Tango.

    • emac2

      You can’t imagine two hot women together?

      • IamtheWalrus

        No need to imagine. I have the internet.

  • fred robbins

    It’s hard to figure out the reason the Yankees make any trades or signings. Now, it seems they passed on Morales who was only a low dollar signing with a big bat-and could actually play 1st base, currently raking now for Minnesota, because they signed Beltran to 3 years and now they say he is the reason they can’t add a bat. He is too disabled to do anything but DH.. so what in the world is going on here? How does a team pigeon hole itself into a place where they have bad players locked into playing for another year or two?
    I don’t get it.

    • Oy

      Morales can’t play 1B. I’d rather see Kelly Johnson at 1B, McCann at 1B with JRM catching rather than having Morales there. He would be a DH and emergency 1B. Which is exactly what they already have in Beltran (except he is an emergency RF).

      Couldn’t agree more with you on how bad the Beltran signing was, though.

    • RetroRob

      Morales would not sign with the Yankees because he wouldn’t have playing time. Beltran is going to be absorbing most of the DH ABs.

  • lee

    “They (Tampa Bay) currently have the worst record (25-42) and second worst run differential (-52) in baseball, three games worse than the Cubs.”

    say what???? the Cubbies have a run differential of -11, which is significantly better than the Yankees and about half the teams in the AL.

    • BFDeal

      Because run differential really doesn’t mean anything this early in the season.

      • lee

        ah, so because it’s early in the season it’s OK to say that a team has a run differential of -49 when in fact they have a differential of -11.

        i’m curious, at what point in the season do factual errors start to matter?

        • Mike Axisa

          Probably when you stop confusing run differential for win-loss record. The Cubs are 26-37, which is … wait for it … three games better than the Rays.

          • lee

            ah, so what you meant to say was:

            “They (Tampa Bay) currently have the worst record (25-42), which is three games worse than the Cubs, and second worst run differential (-52) in baseball.”

            that makes sense! thanks.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

          The Cubs record is 3 games better than Tampa’s.

          The Rays have the second worst run differential in baseball.

          Are those actually factual errors?

          • lee

            if only he had said it that way.

  • trr


  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals


    Refsnyder is in AA. Can we let him get a couple dozen PA’s at AAA before we say he’s better than everything else we have and at least one guy that we don’t?

    Why couldn’t we trade Ref for Zobrist? Because Tampa would never take that trade. Think about why they wouldn’t take it…

    • Oy

      Don’t you know that Banuelos also has more value than Price? Price is only under team control for the next two years and is owed a ton of money. Banuelos is owed pennies for the next 6 years! And Banuelos is like 6 years younger!

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        We’ve pretty much hit bottom when the guy whose handle contains the words ‘king’ ‘fruitless’ and ‘hypothetical’ is decrying trade ideas…