Nearly three weeks ago, the Detroit Tigers pulled off one of the biggest shockers of the summer by acquiring 2012 AL Cy Young award winner David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays. The only way that the trade could have worked out even better for the Tigers would have been if they could have managed to acquire the versatile, switch-hitting Ben Zobrist from the Rays as well.
Zobrist would have helped solve many of the Tigers’ current problems, but he ended up staying in Tampa Bay. The 33-years-old has plenty of extra-base power, popping 27 doubles, three triples and nine homers thus far in 2014. He is also slashing a very healthy .279/.363/.419, and the fact that he is a switch-hitter could have really helped a Tigers lineup that has been starving for quality left-handed bats for seemingly the entire season.
Given the fact that the return of Andy Dirks has been coming along ever so slowly, the Tigers may have been wise to have looked elsewhere for a left-handed bat in retrospect, and it would have been hard to do much better than Zobrist.
A nine-year MLB veteran, Zobrist has done it all at the big league level, playing every position except pitcher and catcher. The Rays have used him most prominently at second base, shortstop and right field. If the Tigers had acquired him, he could have spelled the rookie Eugenio Suarez at shortstop, or he could have also perhaps squeezed his way into the Tigers’ outfield on occasion as well.
Having a veteran presence on the left side of the infield would have been a welcome sight, considering the fact that the Tigers have another rookie in Nick Castellanos at third base. Zobrist also has a $7.5 million option for 2015, so he could have figured into the Tigers’ plans for next season as well.
There are also those who feel that the Tigers have been lacking leadership this season, and many consider Zobrist to be something of a “quiet leader,” which is yet another quality that he would have brought to the table. It is hard to see where the Tigers could have gone wrong with adding a versatile switch-hitter who would have been a good guy to have around in the clubhouse.
Now, with the Rays trailing the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles by 10 games on Aug. 18, it is not inconceivable that Tampa Bay could look to part ways with more of their proven players, including Zobrist, via the waiver wire before playoff rosters need to be set. The waiver wire process can complicate things a bit, but sometimes it is fun to dream.
If by some stroke of luck the Tigers can still acquire Zobrist, they should jump all over it without hesitation.