Are the Chicago Cubs still interested in utility man Ben Zobrist?
We’re three days into December and the Chicago Cubs have still yet to land themselves a top free agent. Not that we should worry about it, but there is still hope that they’ll find themselves another reliable arm and or utility man.
Which brings us to today’s topic of discussion. While rumors involving the Cubs being tied to veteran right-hander and World Series Champion, Johnny Cueto are growing by the day, one specific free agent remains on Chicago’s radar.
On August 1st, 2006, Ben Zobrist, a native of Eureka, Illinois, made his big league debut under Joe Maddon when they were both with the Tampa Bay Rays but didn’t break out for another two years.
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In 2008, Zobrist hammered 12 home runs while driving in 30 RBI, setting himself up for an opportunity to eclipse those early numbers the following year.
And he did just that.
Since he recorded 27 homers and 91 RBI in 2009, the 34-year-old has averaged 12 big flies a season. It’s been three years since he’s hit more than 11 but found his value was a utility player.
He began as a shortstop and eventually branched out to second base, third base, first base, and the outfield with the Rays before he was traded to the Oakland Athletics along with Yunel Escobar in exchange for Daniel Robertson, Boog Powell, and John Jaso before teams reported to camp.
His run with the Athletics was shortlived when Billy Beane dealt him to the Kansas City Royals just two days before the non-waiver deadline. Kansas City gave up both Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks.
And of course, the Royals would go on to defeating the New York Mets to become the World Series Champions. During their postseason run, Zobrist started at second base and played every playoff game, ending the run with 20 hits, two homers, and six RBI in 66 at-bats.
Adding him to the mix would be interesting, but it’s not something that Cubs need. Sure, he’s solid when it comes to defense, but having Tommy La Stella in a mix of infielders with Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, and even Chris Coghlan doesn’t leave much wiggle room.
Coghlan made a handful of appearances at second base before Castro took over and the former shortstop is expected to open up the 2016 campaign as the everyday starter at the position.