Rangers Should (Still) Target Ben Zobrist, Apparently Are

On November 10th I opined that the Rangers should go after Tampa Bay Rays IF/COF Ben Zobrist -- who is entering his contract year in 2015 -- being that the club has a pressing need for a front-of-the-order bat and corner outfielder. Zobrist satisfied both those needs then as he does now and, at a mere $7.5 million, Texas would be hard-pressed to find more value/production at such a low cost.

Recently, Jon Paul Morosi wrote that Zobrist could be on the move -- which, of course -- mentioning the Rangers along with about ten other teams who might be interested. It makes sense because of the reasons I've already acknowledged: he fills a need because of how versatile he is, and he's cheap. This concept isn't exclusive to Texas. It makes sense for everyone, which is why it will cost in terms of prospects to acquire the Rays super-utility man. 

For the Rays, an organization is dire transition, it doesn't do them any good to pocket any of their free agent talent making more than the league minimum. It behooves them to move a player like Zobrist and extract the greatest possible return they can, but more important is moving him at all. It's an interesting leverage/counter-leverage situation, since teams know he's in a contract year and needs to be dealt, yet he's a roster-completer sort of talent so he won't be free. 

In my November article I wrote [Zobrist] is a pretty sure bet to produce at least four wins next year, but I may have been jumping the gun. In Tampa a large portion of his value has come from playing middle infield, where even league-average offensive production is weighted much more heavily than, say, corner outfield, which is where he would theoretically play in Texas and what the Rangers have to reconcile with in terms of the talent they would be willing to give up. Zobrist is probably still a 4-win player if his primary position was SS/2B, but positional value has to be taken into account and it would dock him at least a win playing left field in Texas.

Either way, depending on the talent going the other way, I think Ben Zobrist would be a clever find for the Texas front office. He was the first person I thought of when the offseason got underway, and maybe it's a pride thing but I'm not willing to call it quits on getting him until he's somewhere else.