I was chatting up a couple of Royals fans Wednesday who shared their roster concerns while also averting their eyes from the television that showed their team losing Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
The current roster is fine. More than fine, actually, but it’s never too early to fret over free agency.
I found it interesting that these guys deemed Ben Zobrist a higher priority than Alex Gordon, the four-time Gold Glove left fielder who’s played in the last three All-Star Games. Zobrist has been a Royal since July 28 after nine seasons with the Rays and 67 games with the Athletics.
Zobrist has played 69 games at second base this season, 45 in left field and five in right. He’s also made three starts at third base with the Royals - exactly the type of versatility that interests the Orioles. Exactly the type that makes Kansas City fans want to hold onto him.
Zobrist turns 35 in May. He made $7.5 million this season. He won’t break the bank. The Orioles should target him.
Manager Buck Showalter has always liked Zobrist and there are people in the warehouse who consider him a good fit. The Orioles already have Jonathan Schoop at second base, but Zobrist could play the corner outfield spots and back up at other positions. He also would provide leadership in a clubhouse that may undergo another drastic makeover.
Zobrist may not get back to 2009 form, when he batted .297/.405/.543 with 28 doubles, seven triples, 27 home runs and 91 RBIs in 152 games with the Rays and placed eighth in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League. The Orioles don’t really care. They’ll take the present version.
How would Zobrist’s career .355 on-base percentage work for the Orioles, who ranked 24th in the majors at .307? I think you know the answer.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette stated earlier this month that the club needed to improve its on-base percentage. It seems to be a goal every winter.
Zobrist has appeared in 31 playoff games. He was 6-for-18 against the Astros in the Division Series and he’s 7-for-22 with three doubles, a home run and seven runs scored against the Blue Jays in the Championship Series.
The Orioles are expected to at least kick the tires on Zobrist this winter. If Showalter has his way, they’ll park him at Camden Yards next season.
Do you want him?