Chicago Cubs don’t need a blockbuster move to be ready for 2018
By Jake Misener
Middle infield reinforcements
Of course, most of the talk surrounding Addison Russell this winter has revolved around his potential trade value. After driving in a career-high 95 runs in 2016, Russell appeared in just 110 games, slashing .239/.304/.418 with 43 RBI.
In terms of OPS, he wasn’t that far off his 2016 performance (.722 to .738). But when you more than halve your RBI production, people take notice. Throw in his early-season off-the-field issues and it’s easy to understand how evaluators and fans have soured a bit on him.
Another middle infield piece (who also sees more than his share of time in the outfield) is due to rebound in Ben Zobrist. The 2016 World Series MVP put up some of the worst numbers of his career last season. His on-base percentage plummeted from .386 to .318 year-over-year. His OPS+ fell 41 points and he slugged below .700 for the first time since 2010.
With two years and a sizable $29 million remaining on his contract, the Cubs need Zobrist to bring some value to the dish. And, in 2017, he failed to do so more often than not. With that kind of money, you have to hit over .270 more than two months out of the season. This rings especially true when you consider the underperforming Jason Heyward, as well.