Chicago Cubs: A reunion with Ben Zobrist seems highly unlikely
The Chicago Cubs seem averse to spending any money right now meaning that, coupled with the pickup of yet another potential utility man, a reunion with Ben Zobrist appears less and less like a possibility.
This offseason has been a frustrating one to track for Chicago Cubs fans as the team proves time and time again that they can reach new levels of stinginess. Most recently, they missed out on promising Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama because the three years at a total of $15-20 million was too far outside of their comfort range much like the $4.5 million Eric Sogard signed for.
Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that it likely spells doom for the Cubs in trying to bring back swiss army man Ben Zobrist. Unless the two-time World Series champion is willing to take a minor league deal (which is about all the Cubs are handing out these days), it’s likely the last we’ve seen of him in a Cubs uniform.
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The team has pretty much signaled this, signing former Brewers utility man Hernan Perez to a, you guessed it, minor league deal. In terms of utility, the Cubs now have Perez, David Bote, Tony Kemp and Daniel Descalso to choose from which, while not terrible, is a far cry from Zobrist.
When he’s right, Zobrist is far and away a better player than all four of these options, indicated by his 2018 campaign in which he hit over .300 for the first time in his career and posted a solid 117 OPS+. Of the four, only Descalso has recorded an OPS+ within ten points of that once in his entire career.
Given his age and his unfortunate 2019 season, a one-year deal seems likely for the veteran utility man, but, as the team demonstrated with Sogard, it’s not about years. It’s hard to see Zobrist signing for much less than the now Brewer (or less than him at all for that matter).
It’s really hard to see Chicago bringing back Zobrist when they weren’t willing to pay a cheap, not all that impressive utility man and instead brought in an even cheaper, even more underwhelming minor leaguer.
That’s been the story of this offseason (subscription required), even if it gets in the way of fan favorites and solid additions. They’ve metaphorically chosen Perez over Sogard and Zobrist every time.