Chicago Cubs: Ben Zobrist isn’t what this team needs in 2016
The Chicago Cubs will no-doubt be active this offseason, but super-utility player Ben Zobrist shouldn’t be on the team’s shopping list this offseason.
With the Kansas City Royals just one win from their first World Series title in 30 years, the offseason is now imminent. Ned Yost‘s club can close out the Fall Classic on Sunday night with a win, thus officially setting off the awards and hot stove season.
And with hot stove season comes rampant rumors, especially when your team won 97 games before falling flat on its face in the NLCS.
One member of the Royals, utility man Ben Zobrist, has been oft-linked to the Chicago Cubs, dating back to the July 31 trade deadline, when he was eventually flipped from the Oakland Athletics to Kansas City for the stretch run.
It makes sense, to be honest. Cubs manager Joe Maddon is known for moving players around the diamond almost at-will, as we saw with Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro and Chris Coghlan at-times this year. A piece like Zobrist fits that mold and, given the pair would be reunited from their days in Tampa Bay, the rumors aren’t far-fetched by any means.
This season, between Oakland and Kansas City, the 34-year-old batted .276/.359/.450. His slugging percentage was his highest since 2012 with the Rays and he appeared in games at five different positions – showcasing his defensive value.
The Chicago Cubs have an overabundance of middle-infield talent – which, to be fair, is an enviable problem to have. Starlin Castro, who experienced a resurgent second-half, Javier Baez and Addison Russell will all vie for the two starting jobs, and that layout depends heavily upon the team’s offseason decisions.
A trade of one of those players could greatly alter the make-up of the Chicago infield, leaving room for a player like Zobrist. Then again, Maddon relied on Coghlan this year to fill that role and he did so without fail – rendering the question: why would the Cubs pursue Zobrist?
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His postseason experience is invaluable to a team like Chicago. He’s appeared in the postseason on five different occasions – four times with Tampa Bay and once, this season, with the Royals. During those games, he’s batted .258/.321/.427 – proving his value yet again.
But with Coghlan in-tow and more middle infielders than they have room for already (with more well on their way), it doesn’t make sense that the Chicago Cubs’ front office would shell out the kind of money or the length of deal Zobrist and his camp are seeking.
Joel Sherman recently predicted a four-year, $68 million deal for Zobrist – which would be one of the larger deals in Cubs’ free agent history and would place a 35-year-old bench player atop the Cubs’ payroll in terms of position players.
In short, there’s no way the Cubs’ brain trust of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would go to such lengths to bring an admittedly experienced and versatile bat as Zobrist to Chicago. He’s valuable, sure – but he’s not a $70 million player.