If Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo did actually intend on acquiring veteran infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist to fill the Nats' need at second base in 2015, and there are multiple reports saying the Nationals' thought the asking price was too high, he'll apparently have to work out a deal with frequent trade partner Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland Athletics rather than the Tampa Bay Rays.
According to a report by San Francisco Chronicle writer Susan Slusser, the A's are in the process of/on the verge of acquiring both Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Rays for a package which is reported by others including New York Post writer Joel Sherman, to include catcher John Jaso and two prospects, believed to be Oakland's top shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson and outfield prospect Boog Powell.
Just this week, of course, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote an article suggesting that after Nats' outfielder Jayson Werth was forced to undergo surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder, the Nationals should be going after Zobrist, 33, who finished his ninth major league season at +5.7 fWAR, posting a .272/.354/.395 line with 34 doubles and 10 HRs in 654 plate appearances.
"Yet," the bow-tied reporter wrote, "the Nats are not actively pursuing Zobrist, according to major-league sources – not pursuing him even though he would provide a significant upgrade at second base and protection in an outfield that also includes the oft-injured Bryce Harper."
Tampa Bay, Rosenthal noted, was looking for a "significant return" on Zobrist, and the Nationals, "... mindful that Zobrist is entering his free-agent year, consider the price to be too high, sources say."
Washington Post reporter James Wagner previously reported the same, writing in an article earlier this winter that the Nationals, "...sensed, around the time of the winter meetings, that it would be too difficult to pry [Zobrist] away from the Rays."
Now that Zobrist has been dealt, and assuming there isn't another trade with the A's coming that will bring Zobrist to D.C., where do the Nationals turn?
Where is that young, controllable, major league-ready infield prospect out there?
Do the Nats really stick with Danny Espinosa's plus-defense and deal with his issues from the left side of the plate since he told the WaPost's Wagner yesterday that he wants to be the Nationals' everyday second baseman, but is not yet convinced giving up switch-hitting is in his best interest?
MLB.com's Bill Ladson looked at the second base situation in D.C. yesterday and listed the five in-house options, including Wilmer Difo (who played at Low-A in 2014), Espinosa, Anthony Rendon (if the Nats find a third baseman), Kevin Frandsen (who lobbied for the job at NatsFest) and Dan Uggla (who signed a minor league deal this winter after struggling for the past few seasons, while reportedly dealing with undiagnosed concussion symptoms).