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Asdrubal Cabrera signs with Rays, which means more Ben Zobrist speculation for the Giants

Cabrera made sense for the Giants in a pre-McGehee world. Zobrist makes more sense in a post-McGehee world, even if it's unlikely to happen.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Asdrubal Cabrera signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year, $8 million deal. The idea is for him to have a bounceback year and re-enter free agency looking for a huge contract. It's not a bad idea for the player, and it's a great idea for the Rays. I would have preferred the Giants to gamble on a year from Cabrera rather than take the safe, unexciting route they eventually took, but maybe Cabrera never returned the Giants' calls because he's terrified of seagulls. Dunno.

Ah, but if Cabrera had to go to another team, at least he went somewhere that indirectly helped the Giants, who were linked to Ben Zobrist recently. The Rays don't have to trade Zobrist now. They can put him in left field and put newly acquired Steven Souza at DH.

Reminder, though, that this is Steven Souza:

He's not exactly the type of clomper you need to hide as a DH. So maybe you put Zobrist at DH? Except putting one of the most versatile players in baseball at DH is like hiring Ian Fleming to file things around the office. Yeah, it needs to get done, but ...

It's a fit, then. The Rays might want to exchange a player on a one-year deal for copious prospects, and the Giants might want a left fielder who could also be a third baseman who could also be a second baseman. Before we get to the part where I write an entire paragraph that's nothing but "Except" with an ellipsis after it, allow me to make the case for Zobrist.

His hitting stats aren't sexy, you cry. No, even though he's had three 20-homer seasons in his career, he's probably not a dinger monster. He's a career .264 hitter. His OBPs are always solid, but never gaudy.

Don't forget that Tropicana Field is the Astrodome of the American League, where hitting statistics go to die. Which makes it completely bizarre that Cabrera would chose to play there in an attempt to rebuild his value, but maybe his agent doesn't have the Internet. Let's see what Zobrist might look like if he played in a hitting environment similar to The Ballpark at Arlington for his career:


That little trick makes him look more like the premium hitter he actually is. Then you add in his incredible versatility, which makes him an asset at almost any spot on the field, and he becomes one of the more valuable players in baseball. If you believe in WAR, he's been close to the most valuable player in baseball, behind only Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano since becoming a full-time starter in 2009. He's a switch-hitter without an discernable platoon splits, which makes him the perfect player to slot between Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. He's perfect for the Giants.

Except ...

I just spent a long, long time looking at every roster in the National League. And while Zobrist makes sense for the Giants, he might even make more sense for the Nationals. The Nationals' lineup is loaded, except for one teensy problem at second base. They should make a huge play for Zobrist, which means there's a gonna be a bidding war if the Giants also have interest. Even if the Rays are enamored of Kyle Crick's potential, there's a chance -- a great chance -- that the Nationals will offer more. Rays fans are already chanting Andrew Susac's name in that "Og-re Og-re" sing-songy way.

Which might make sense for Zobrist three years ago. But he'll be 34 and a free agent after the season. The shiny table of WAR leaders is great for evaluating Zobrist in the past, but the Giants would have to figure out what he would mean for their future. Six years of Susac has a chance to be more valuable than one of Zobrist, even considering the extreme win-now spot the Giants are in. And that's before you factor in the cost of giving away any of their best trade chips for a rental. A trade for Zobrist now could lead to a quiet trading deadline, if only because the rest of the league wouldn't be interested in what the Giants are peddling.

It works in theory. It might not work in practice. Unless I'm overrating Zobrist's trade value -- always possible -- it doesn't seem like the GIants have the ammunition to get in a shootout with a team like the Nationals for a one-year player. Keep the optimism up. Don't bother with the expectations, though. It's probably not going to happen, even though the Rays should be nice and just give him to the Giants.

C'mon, Rays. C'mmmonnnnnnn. Be a pal.