More than one person joked last week after hearing that the Oakland A's acquired rumored Washington Nationals' target Ben Zobrist (and shortstop Yunel Escobar) from the Tampa Bay Rays that it was only a matter of time before Nats' GM Mike Rizzo and Athletics' GM Billy Beane worked out a deal for Zobrist, a super-utility man who would fill the one big hole in the Nationals' lineup at second base.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported that before the A's and Rays' trade, the Nationals had at least discussed a potential three-team deal that would have brought both Zobrist and Escobar to D.C.
According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, however, it is Escobar and not Zobrist who is on the way to the nation's capital.
Heyman tweeted tonight that the Nationals have acquired the 32-year-old, right-handed hitting and throwing shortstop:
Hear nats have interest in yunel escobar. Escobar for clippard may make sense as match.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 15, 2015
Yunel has indeed been traded to nats.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 15, 2015
As of this moment, Heyman is the only one reporting the deal and there is no word on the return.
UPDATE (7:51 PM):
Tyler Clippard is involved in the deal.The deal is pending, I was informed.#Nats #Nationals #MLB— William Ladson (@washingnats) January 15, 2015
More information when it's available...
Escobar, in his eighth major league season, posted a .258/.324/.340 line with 18 doubles and seven home runs in 137 games and 529 plate appearances over which he was worth +0.2 fWAR, a year after a +3.9 fWAR campaign with the Rays in 2013.
Where will he play? Are the Nationals acquiring Escobar to play second base with Ian Desmond at short? He hasn't played second since his first year in the majors with the Braves in 2007. Is it a sign that Desmond's days in D.C. are numbered? He's due to hit free agency after the 2015 season and has so far been unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal...
Escobar signed a 2-year/$13M extension with the Rays in April 2014, which pays the infielder $5M this season and $7M in 2016 with a club option for $7M in 2017 or a $1M buyout.
MLB.com writer Bill Ladson has since confirmed the deal:
I have confirned the #Nats acquired SS Yunel Escobar from the A's. @JonHeymanCBS was the first to report it.— William Ladson (@washingnats) January 15, 2015