SAN FRANCISCO -- The already active speculation about the Giants' interest in Tampa Bay handyman Ben Zobrist has increased.
Giants special assignment scout Pat Burrell recently was seen at Tropicana Field, where other San Francisco scouts have visited -- and not just when David Price pitches. The Giants have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Price, who's the top pitcher potentially available through trade now that Oakland has acquired Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs.
Zobrist, 33, also is viewed as a possible fit for the Giants. The two-time All-Star can play second base, where San Francisco likely will need depth even if Marco Scutaro overcomes his back injury. Zobrist also has extensive experience in the outfield, an area of some concern for the Giants due to the spotty offensive production from Gregor Blanco and Tyler Colvin.
Moreover, Zobrist is relatively affordable. His contract pays him $7 million this year and includes a $7.5 million team option for 2015.
The switch-hitting Zobrist is batting .268 with six homers and a .757 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 79 games this year, approximating his career numbers (.263, 110 homers in 997 games, .786 OPS).
The Rays are believed to have scouted the Giants' Double-A Richmond affiliate thoroughly, adding to the Zobrist/Price speculation.