OAKLAND — The Kansas City Royals have made another big addition for the season’s stretch run, acquiring utilityman Ben Zobrist and cash from the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday for right-hander Aaron Brooks and minor league left-hander Sean Manaea.
The 34-year-old Zobrist, an infielder and outfielder, batted .268 with six home runs, 20 doubles, two triples and 33 RBIs in 67 games for the A’s, who are in last place in the AL West after three straight playoff seasons.
He joins a Royals team that leads the AL Central a season after beating Oakland in the one-game wild card on the way to the franchise’s first World Series in 29 years and a seven-game loss to the reigning champion San Francisco Giants.
Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore already dealt for former Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto while sending three left-handers to the Reds in the swap.
“Well, listen, they’ve got a very good team already, one that is in first place for a reason,” A’s GM Billy Beane said. “In anybody’s opinion, they certainly got a lot better with these two acquisitions. … They’re adding to a very good team and I assume they’re going to be pretty formidable from this point forward.”
Zobrist missed a month following arthroscopic left knee surgery in late April for a torn meniscus.
Beane pulled off his second trade in 24 hours and third in six days. Oakland dealt closer Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets on Monday night after trading lefty Scott Kazmir to his hometown Houston Astros last Thursday.
Zobrist could fill a void in left field and play some second base. Left fielder Alex Gordon is likely sidelined until at least late September after the All-Star strained his groin tracking a fly ball just before the break. Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando were platooning at the position, but Moore sought an upgrade until Gordon’s return.
Having Zobrist available to play so many spots also will give manager Ned Yost an opportunity to rotate players and rest others down the stretch to keep everybody healthy and fresh for what the Royals hope is another World Series run.
Brooks had a 6.23 ERA over two appearances for the Royals and 4 1-3 innings. He has mostly pitched at Triple-A Omaha, going 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 18 games and 17 starts. Beane envisions him joining the A’s soon to help fill voids because of injuries.
Manaea, a top prospect, has pitched in rookie ball, Class-A and Double-A so far this season. The A’s have been reloading their farm system ahead of Friday’s trade deadline.
Beane would much rather be building his big league roster for an October run, but he’s in a different position in late July with a losing club.
“We’d rather be on the other end of it, that’s for sure,” he said. “You also have to be somewhat pragmatic when evaluating the situation and the organization’s situation going forward. This season I think we had higher hopes.
“We wanted to address the lack of pitching depth in the organization and we think this helps,” Beane added. “Kansas City’s got a good club and they’re being aggressive, and it worked out for us.”