Matt Silverman joined the excellent Neil Solondz for the weekly Rays podcast yesterday afternoon, and discussed the full scope of the Ben Zobrist - Yunel Escobar trade, the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera, and what John Jaso brings to the table.
Early on in the conversation, the focus was the emotion of dealing the last Devil Ray:
I don't know if it's going to set in. Ben has been such a mainstay in our organization for so long. We'll always think of him as a Ray. We've seen a number o players move on to other uniforms, but this one is probably the most painful.
Silverman then went on to discuss how this process is necessary for the Rays, and that it's exactly how the team will land the next big thing.
The irony of Ben is that we acquired him in this type of a trade, where we traded Aubrey Huff near the end of his control...
This portion of the conversation was decidely heartfelt, and I encourage you to check out the podcast in full. Silverman goes on to discuss Ben's reaction to their conversations the day of the trade, and Ben's reactions speak volume for his character.
We don't make [these types of trades] with a smile on our face at all, but we do it knowing that we're going to make ourselves better for the long run.
Silverman did concede that the deal was "certainly a step back at the major league level," but said he viewed it "in concert" with the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera, whom he called an All-Star short stop.
Solondz asked Silverman whether short would be Cabrera's position next season, considering how the Nationals had deployed him at second base to improved metrics last fall, but Silverman deferred, saying it's up to Kevin Cash and his coaching staff to make that decision. However, reading between the lines, it seemed clear the starting infield can be expected to include Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Franklin, whatever the alignment.
On John Jaso's position, Silverman was a bit more forthcoming, saying that Jaso was acquired for his bat, and that he anticipates to carry "three catchers" on the roster next season.
On the prospects acquired, Silverman described his priorities for players who are "athletic", "high ceiling" and have a "love for the game" - attributing that to both players acquired.
Going further, he called infield prospect Daniel Robertson an impact bat who should be at the top or near the top of the Rays prospect rankings, and who has the potential to transform into a valuable player, given the time to grow into a defensive position (read: short stop or otherwise).
Again, go listen to the whole thing at the 1/12/15 episode on this page, which includes interviews with beat writer Marc Topkin, and new Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo. It's worth your time.