Chicago Cubs: Could 2019 be Ben Zobrist’s last stand?

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist is coming off of a career year at 38. But, with an expiring contract, he may opt to hang up the cleats after the season.

Ben Zobrist came to Chicago as advertised. After three seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he’s been a stable of professionalism and provides the team with versatility.

When Zobrist signed with the Cubs prior to the 2016 season, he envisioned what it would be like to win a World Series in Chicago and end the longest championship drought in sports. Not only was he able to accomplish that feat in year one, but he continues to be a productive piece for a Cubs team with sights set on another title.

Not only does Zobrist provide the Cubs with a tough at-bat every time he steps to the plate, but he has also proven to be one of the team’s biggest voices in the locker room. The Illinois native possesses a stellar work ethic. His preparation is second to none, which carries even more importance on a team with so many young players.

Zobrist has also never complained about playing time and welcomes the idea of playing anywhere on the diamond. Players like this aren’t just great to have, but essential for any championship team.

2018 Zobrist’s best?

In 2018, Zobrist hit above .300 for the first time in his career. He slashed .305/.378/.440. While impressive, don’t let this fool you, the veteran is not the same player he once was.

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He’s no longer the type of guy who can hit 20 home runs a year or steal 15 bags. He has remained fresh and productive thanks to his diligent preparation and being able to take days off because of the Cubs depth.

Zobrist thrived off being well rested over the course of the season. He had just 520 plate appearances in 2018 despite spending no significant time on the disabled list.

What’s next for Zobrist?

Zobrist proved that he has plenty of good baseball left in the tank, and can probably remain a productive hitter for the next few years. With the North Siders’ influx of young position players, 2019 will probably mark his last season in a Cubs uniform.

Zobrist will likely be able to sign elsewhere as a role player if he so chooses. The question then becomes, why continue playing? This is a guy who has nothing left to prove. He’s a three-time All-Star, two-time World Series champ and won World Series MVP for the Cubs in 2016.

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His go-ahead double in Game 7 will always be remembered as the biggest hit in Cubs history. Zobrist could probably have a career in coaching or broadcasting once his playing days are over. His future past next season is up in the air, but for the Chicago Cubs to win another championship, they’ll need Zobrist to come through one more time.