The Kansas City Royals have agreed to acquire utility player Ben Zobrist and cash considerations from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor-league pitchers Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks, the team announced Tuesday. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the trade.
Zobrist, 34, will be a free agent at the end of the season and is batting .268 with six home runs and 33 RBIs this season. The two-time All-Star will start in the outfield, according to the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough, but will likely also fill in for second baseman Omar Infante and shortstop Alcides Escobar in the infield. Kansas City is currently missing its regular leftfielder, Alex Gordon, who is recovering from a strained groin.
Manaea is a 23-year-old lefthander who was selected in the first round (34th overall) by Kansas City in the 2013 draft and was named the Royals' No. 3 prospect by Baseball America before the season. Recently promoted to Double A Northwest Arkansas, Manaea has thrown 31 2/3 innings across three levels of competition, striking out 39, walking 11 and allowing 13 earned runs. He has missed time this season due to a groin injury and an abdominal strain. Brooks is a 25-year-old righthander and ninth-round pick from the '11 draft who has appeared in four games for the Royals in the last two seasons. Currently with Triple A Omaha, he's 6–5 with a 3.71 ERA in 106 2/3 innings over 18 games and 17 starts, striking out 92 and walking 21.
The Zobrist trade comes two days after the Royals acquired starting pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds. Kansas City currently leads the American League Central with a 60–38 record and is eight games ahead of the second-place Twins, the largest division advantage of any team in baseball.
- Christopher Chavez