We know Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said anyone can be traded, but is he thinking about moving utility man Ben Zobrist?
According to The Athletic’s Sahedev Sharma, a trade could be a possibility if the Cubs want to make a move that’s within their budget.
At the annual Cubs Convention this past weekend, Ben Zobrist acknowledged that he knows it is possible since he does not have a no-trade clause. He is due $12.5 million this season, and if the Cubs want to make a move for bullpen help, they could move most if not all of his contract in a potential trade, Sharma says.
While it is realistic to think about, I’m not sure moving your most consistent hitter is the right move, even if it is for big need. However, Zobrist is 37 and will be 38 in May, so you have to wonder how many productive at-bats he has left.
Aside from a down 2017, Zobrist has lived up to the four-year contract he was handed in the winter of 2015. He comes off a .305/.378/.440 (123 wRC+) season and has consistently been able to stay healthy enough throughout.
Though, some fans continue to ask for a more consistent lineup from Joe Maddon. I’m here to tell you that’s not going to happen. The Cubs have averaged 97 wins the last four seasons because of depth from their position players and consistent starting pitching. Moving Zobrist would open up more playing time for Ian Happ, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and newly acquired utility man Daniel Descalso though so moving him would not hurt their depth. Furthermore, we still don’t know what the Cubs plan to do with Addison Russell, but he potentially will be added back to the mix once his suspension ends.
If the Cubs moved Zobrist for bullpen help, it would take a hit in the veteran leadership and consistency department. Happ and Almora have shown glimpses of becoming very valuable players, but with this window of opportunity to win, I’m not sure the Cubs should bank on that. Zobrist played a big part in 2016 and 2018 to the teams’ success. Even in 2017, he found a way to be a part of big moments.
Zobrist is also coming off a year where he finished with a 3.6 fWAR, trailing only behind Javier Baez. He finished with almost as many intentional walks (55) as strikeouts (60) and had the MLB’s 15th highest contact rate (86.6). You look at that kind of production, and if a playoff contender sends back something the Cubs front office can’t refuse, I think it’s worth considering.
We don’t know what they could get for him right now, so let’s wait and see, like we have all winter long.