The Cubs are expected to pursue a trade for Ben Zobrist of the Athletics this summer, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Zobrist recently returned to action after missing time for knee surgery.
Zobrist, who just turned 34, has played all over the diamond in his career, registering stellar defensive marks at numerous positions. In recent years, he’s spent most of his time at second base and the corner outfield, though he played at short quite a bit earlier in his career. Of course, Zobrist has also consistently delivered well-above-average production on offense, with a career .264/.354/.429 batting line.
All said, Zobrist has been one of the ten most valuable all-around position players in the game since the start of 2011. He is still a bargain with only a $7.5MM salary this season, though he’ll hit the open market after the year.
A trade would, of course, render Zobrist ineligible for a qualifying offer, and Oakland will surely be looking for a return that exceeds the value of a compensatory draft pick if it decides to move him at the trade deadline. That is no sure thing, as Wittenmyer notes, as Oakland still hopes to get back into contention.
From the Cubs’ perspective, adding Zobrist would make obvious sense, though that can be said of many other teams as well. The veteran thrived under skipper Joe Maddon when both were with the Rays, and he’d offer the team ample flexibility while deepening its lineup. While Chicago has enjoyed strong production at many spots in the everyday lineup, its bench has been underwhelming.