Matt Silverman punctuated the beginning of his tenure as general manager of the Tampa Bay Rays by trading Wil Myers to the San Diego Padres last week, and the newly promoted executive may look to unload another one of the team's key figures in the coming months.
According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, there's a "decent chance" that Ben Zobrist, the 33-year-old who debuted with the Rays in 2006 and is set to become a free agent the upcoming season, will be traded by Opening Day.
Under Silverman's stewardship, the Rays appear resolved to trim payroll this winter while also unloading some of the club's more seasoned players - Tampa Bay also traded away Matt Joyce, Jeremy Hellickson, Joel Peralta and Sean Rodriguez earlier this offseason. As such, the Rays may be prepared to part ways with Zobrist, who's set to earn $7.5 million in 2015 and likely won't factor into the organization's long-term plans.
Zobrist, a two-time All-Star, is sure to generate interest from numerous teams due to his defensive versatility and well-rounded offensive profile. Zobrist managed a 116 OPS+ over 146 games last season, collecting 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases while finishing tied for 12th in the majors with 5.7 WAR. Morosi reported that the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners could be among the potential trade partners for the notoriously budget-conscious Rays, who would presumably demand young, controllable talent in exchange for for Zobrist.