Chicago Cubs Win Ben Zobrist Sweepstakes, Signs Four-Year Deal
Every MLB offseason there is always one free agent player that every other free agent player is waiting for to sign their new contract so that the market can be set and then the chips start to fall. That free agent player this offseason seemed to be super-utility player Ben Zobrist; and in the end, the sweepstakes for his services came down to two final teams: the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs. The winner…the Cubs.
There was no doubt that the Cubs are littered with promising young superstars, and that talent was on display this past postseason as it carried the Cubs all the way to the NLCS before getting swept by those Mets. Young talent can only take you so far, as eventually, they will need to lean on veteran leadership for guidance. Well, that veteran leadership is well on its way, as the Cubs have agreed to a deal with Zobrist. The terms of the contract are four-years, $56 million, with a full no-trade the first three-years of the contract and a partial no-trade the fourth.
The 34-year old Zobrist spent the 2015 season with two completely different ball clubs, first starting the season with the eventual AL West Division last place finishing Oakland A’s, and then finishing the season as a World Champion with the Kansas City Royals (Zobrist was traded at the trading deadline for two prospects). His combined 2015 numbers were .276/.359/.450 triple-slash, with 76 R’s, 129 H’s, 36 2B’s, 13 HR’s, 56 RBI’s, 62 BB’s, 56 SO’s, and an .809 OPS in 467 at-bats.
While the Cubs may be a new team for the ten-year veteran, it will feel much like home for him. Zobrist will be reunited with his longtime manager from his playing days with the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon. Zobrist’s familiarity with Maddon, as well as the Cubs being able to offer Zobrist a regular position at second base and Chicago being in close proximity to Nashville, Tennessee, his home in the off-season, were three major selling points in his eventual decision to pick the Cubs over the Mets.
Zobrist will fit in nicely with the Cubs and may be the perfect and most important signing for that team’s future. He will slot in as the starting second baseman – as the Cubs dealt their previous starting second baseman, Starlin Castro, to the New York Yankees soon after agreeing to a deal with Zobrist (click here for more on the Castro trade) – and probably bat either second or sixth in the batting order. If I were setting the lineup, I would have Zobrist batting second in the order to take advantage of his solid on-base percentage and the fact that he is a well-established contact hitter. He and presumed leadoff hitter, Addison Russell, will set the table nicely for the power bats that will follow in Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Schwarber.
The Cubs are on the cusp of something special with this team, and many feel that its a matter of when, not if, this team will eventually put an end to their curse, doubt, whatever you want to call it, and win not just one, but multiple World Series Championships. And when it’s all said and done, they will look back at this Zobrist signing a key acquisition that put them over-the-top.