Oakland receives two pitchers, including highly regarded lefty Manaea
By Jeffrey Flanagan
CLEVELAND -- If there was any doubt of Royals general manager Dayton Moore's conviction about returning his team to the World Series, that should have been removed with his second major trade in three days.
On Sunday, the Royals acquired right-hander Johnny Cueto from the Reds to solidify the rotation. On Tuesday, Moore dealt for Oakland's super utility player Ben Zobrist in exchange for pitching prospects Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks.
Zobrist, who is eligible for free agency after this season, is expected to join the Royals on Thursday in Toronto. Moore and manager Ned Yost said Zobrist will take over in left field for the injured Alex Gordon, who is recovering from a Grade 2-plus groin strain.
"He always appealed to us," Moore said of Zobrist, "and then obviously with Alex Gordon on the disabled list, there was more of a sense of urgency."
Moore indicated the Royals probably were done making moves for now. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is on Friday at 3 p.m. CT.
Zobrist, 34, has the ability to play numerous positions.
"He's a guy we can plug in anywhere," Yost said. "He's played everything but pitcher and catcher, I think."
Yost said he'll probably play Zobrist in left field about five or six times a week for now, at least until Gordon returns in early September. Zobrist can also spell Alex Rios in right field and Omar Infante at second base, along with Mike Moustakas at third base.
Zobrist, who will probably bat sixth according to Yost, said he is eager to join his new team.
"My reaction is I'm excited. Obviously, they have played well and they already have a great club, and then they have the addition of Johnny Cueto," Zobrist said. "There should be a lot more wins coming. I'm super excited about this.
"They are already a good team. I just have to try and not screw it up."
One of Zobrist's instant memories of the Royals stems from the bad-blood series between the A's earlier this year that featured several bench-clearing incidents, ejections, suspensions and a whole lot of chirping from each dugout.
"Well, obviously they got some moxie," Zobrist said. "We had some interesting games with them. Just some conversations we had across the field earlier this year -- they are a tough team. I think what I saw earlier in the season was a tough team to play against. Every guy in the lineup gives tough at-bats and their pitchers never give in.
"They are fighters. They have proven that. It just shows in their gamer attitude. The competition over there is super high."
Zobrist actually knew Yost from many years ago -- Zobrist used to room with Yost's son, Ned, while at Dallas Baptist College.
"I remember one time they both were sitting on the couch, watching NASCAR or something," Zobrist said. "And I wanted to cook dinner for my soon-to-be wife. Well, I had to keep them out. I reminded Ned of that story today and told him 'We've come a long way from that time.'"
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.