Looking Back, Moving Forward: Ben Zobrist

By Jenna West

Ben Zobrist is arguably one of the Rays’ most valuable and reliable players. While spending most of his time at second base, Zobrist can play all seven defensive positions, which the Rays have taken advantage of over the past eight seasons Zobrist has been with the team. In 2013, Zobrist’s numbers were down a little with a .275/.354/.402 line and 77 RBI and 12 homeruns. However, being named an All-Star player earned him the recognition he deserves for his talents.

While Zobrist does not reach free agency until 2016, he has a $7 million club option for 2014 and a $7.5 million club option for 2015 with no buyout. People are already trying to guess how much money the Rays will dish out this offseason to prepare for next season, with David Price trade rumors on the rise. However, the Rays will more than likely pick up Zobrist’s club options. The Rays would not be able to afford most free agent players who have the same variety of talents as Zobrist does.

The Rays pride themselves on winning games with pitching and defense. While Zobrist is strong in both areas, his defense as a super utility player is what makes him stand out from most of his teammates, well almost anyone in professional baseball. Ben Zobrist is a reliable player for Joe Maddon, considering his ability to play at any defensive position on any given night. His humble attitude and work ethic make Zobrist a leader on and off the field and an integral part of the Rays’ roster. While players like Sean Rodriguez, Sam Fuld, or Kelly Johnson are also used across the infield or outfield, none of them have the same consistent offensive power as Zobrist. A lot of players are described as “super-utility” players–Zobrist is one of the very few who truly is.

Expect to see Ben Zobrist back next season as one of the team’s best performers. For every team option, there is always at least the slightest bit of doubt, but not for Zobrist. His contract just keeps on giving and the Rays could not appreciate it any more.