One of the more peculiar Cubs rumors swirling features veteran team leader Ben Zobrist and the team’s supposed kicking the tires on trading him this winter.
In recent days, there have been plenty of Cubs rumors coming out of Las Vegas. If the Cubs want to make any noise at the Winter Meetings, moving veteran Ben Zobrist could be an option to free up some money, according to Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (sub required).
"“Fans don’t want to hear it, but money will be a topic of discussion all winter long. The Cubs have several needs to fill on a tighter budget than in recent winters. Ideally, moving a contract like Tyler Chatwood’s, Jason Heyward’s or even a smaller one like Brian Duensing’s or Brandon Kintzler’s would help the Cubs address their needs. But that may not be realistic. One source suggested that as counter-intuitive as it may seem, shopping Ben Zobrist could make sense.”"
This is not to say the Cubs are actively looking to move their most consistent hitter in 2018, but the idea makes sense if the Cubs want to create some space for a free agent.
Zobrist is set to make $12.5 million in 2019 in the final year of his contract. Possibly moving that money off their payroll could give them added financial flexibility to perhaps pursue a big name like Bryce Harper.
However, Zobrist has a long history of consistency the Cubs desperately need, starting with his at-bats that are never easy to deal with for opposing pitchers. After a rough 2017, he finished 2018 with a slash line of .305/.378/.440. With a strikeout rate of just 11.5 percent, the utility player can be trusted to get on base or provide the team with a consistent contact hitter. His leadership as a veteran in the clubhouse cannot be measured but it certainly shouldn’t be undervalued.
But, he’s also 37 and with his value as high as it currently is, the thought of trading him is not the wildest idea.