ST. PETERSBURG — Amid potentially significant changes to their roster for 2014, the Rays on Saturday made official the obvious decisions to keep their middle infield intact, picking up options on second baseman Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Zobrist, one of their most valuable and versatile players, will make $7 million in 2014 (there was a $2.5 million buyout), and the Rays also hold a 2015 option for $7.5 million as part of a six-year deal signed in April 2010.
"It is a huge blessing to be a part of a great organization," Zobrist tweeted. "Hopefully we can stay for many years to come!"
Escobar, a solid all-around performer after being acquired in a December trade, will make $5 million in 2014, same as last season. The Rays hold another $5 million option for 2015.
Zobrist, 32, was named to his second AL All-Star team this past season, hit .275 with 12 homers and 71 RBIs, and led the AL with a .993 fielding percentage at second. Escobar, who turned 31 Saturday, hit .256 with nine homers and 56 RBIs and led all big-league shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage.
In 117 games as double play partners, they made only 11 errors, matching Cal and Billy Ripken of the 1990 Orioles and Mark Loretta and Alex Gonzalez of the 2006 Red Sox for the fewest ever by an AL duo (with both players qualifying for the fielding title).
The Rays have to decide by Sunday night whether to pick up a $6.5 million option on outfielder David DeJesus or pay a $1.5 million buyout; and on Monday on a $2 million option for right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo or a $30,000 buyout.