A's acquire utility man Zobrist, SS Escobar from Rays

Oakland sends Jaso, pair of prospects to Tampa Bay

A's acquire utility man Zobrist, SS Escobar from Rays

OAKLAND -- The A's replenished the depth of their lineup as well as their bench Saturday by acquiring utility man Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Oakland had to part with catcher John Jaso and two Minor League prospects, infielder Daniel Robertson and outfielder Boog Powell, to complete the trade. But the value of the package Oakland sent to the Rays appeared suitable, since Zobrist is akin to five players by himself. A two-time All-Star, Zobrist can play second base and third base as well as all three outfield spots. He also switch-hits.

"You don't need to pick up the paper or read online to find out about Zobrist's many assets," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "You knew."

Beane said that within "literally five minutes" of the deal's announcement, two teams telephoned him to ask whether he'd consider flipping Zobrist immediately.

"This was the kind of thing everybody's going to have some interest in him at some level," Beane said. "He's really very, very unique. There are very few guys who switch hit and play the positions as well as he does."

Referring to Zobrist's versatility, Beane said of the 33-year-old: "The way we move players around and try to create matchups, he's an almost perfect type of player for our club. ... But then again, you could say that about playing on every club. He's a pretty unique player."

Zobrist batted .272 with 10 home runs last year for the Rays. He left as their all-time leader in doubles (229) and walks (542). He's a career .264 hitter in 1,064 games. Due to earn $7.5 million this year, Zobrist will be eligible for free agency after this season.

Escobar has been an everyday shortstop for eight years with Atlanta (2007-10), Toronto (2010-12) and Tampa Bay (2013-14). A .276 hitter in 1,074 career games, Escobar will fill the vacancy left by shortstop Jed Lowrie, who signed with Houston as a free agent.

"He's an accomplished everyday shortstop," Beane said of the 32-year-old Escobar, who hit .258 in 137 games a year ago.

Beane indicated that despite this trade, Marcus Semien, the 24-year-old infielder acquired from the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal, is still projected to receive ample playing time.

"We see Marcus as an everyday player, similar to Josh Harrison's role with the Pirates," said Beane. "Somebody who can play second, shortstop and even go into the outfield. He also hits from the right side, which is always great."

Jaso batted .264 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 99 games with Oakland before he sustained a concussion on Aug. 25, ending his season prematurely for the second year in a row.

Beane acknowledged the difficulty of parting with Robertson, ranked Oakland's top prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America. A 20-year-old right-handed batter, Robertson hit .310 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs in 132 games with Class-A Advanced Stockton last year. He added 72 walks for a .402 on-base percentage and ranked fourth in all of Minor League baseball with 110 runs scored.

"There were things about Dan that reminded me of Mark Ellis, who's sort of legendary in terms of his makeup and the way the on-field staff would talk about him," Beane said.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the A's designated infielder Andy Parrino for assignment.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.