Jeff Blauser – signed 1997 – 2 years, $8.4 million
Jeff Blauser, while with the Atlanta Braves was a Chicago Cubs killer, plain and simple. When made available, the Chicago Cubs jumped at the chance to get him. Blauser posted an amazing stat line against the Cubs – in only 299 plate appearances he had a .351 average, 15 home runs, and 48 RBI. Blauser was also a versatile infielder – capable of playing second, shortstop, third base and, if needed, left field.
Blauser was considered at the time to be one of the better shortstops in the National League. After having a solid final season with Atlanta, Blauser decided to test the free agent market.
The 1998 season was a memorable one for the Chicago Cubs, as the club made the postseason. The Cubs were matched up against the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs. Sammy Sosa had his record-breaking season with his home run race with Mark McGwire. Rookie sensation Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters in a single game. It was, however, not so memorable for Jeff Blauser.
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Blauser was riddled with injuries during the season causing him to only play in 119 games. By the time the playoffs hit, Blauser saw himself as more of a utility player off the bench. His season numbers dropped way down from his previous season in Atlanta, ultimately ending the year with a .219 average, four homers and 26 RBI. His second season wasn’t much better. Now continuing his utility role, he platooned mostly at second base as a bench player. Blauser finished the year with a stat line of .240 average, 9 homers and 26 runs batted in.
When Blauser signed his contract in late 1997, there was a team option for a third year that would have paid him $7 million; however, the Chicago Cubs declined that option and Blauser was let go.