Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist has been reinstated from the restricted list and added to the 25-man and 40-man rosters, according to a tweet from Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (link). To make room on the active 25-man roster, fellow multipurpose player David Bote has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa; outfielder Mark Zagunis has been designated for assignment to clear a space for Zobrist on the 40-man. A similar report from MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian has since been retweeted by the club itself, essentially comprising what passes for an official announcement in 2019.
Though Zobrist and Bote are certainly the most famous names involved in this transaction, the DFA of Zagunis is certainly noteworthy, as the longtime Cubs farmhand offers lots of control and a relatively accomplished minor league track record. The 26-year-old has only received 55 at-bats in the bigs since debuting in 2017, but his minor league numbers tell of a patient hitter with consistently average-or-better league-adjusted production. With Triple-A Iowa this year, Zagunis has managed a .294/.361/.475 slash in his fourth go-around at the highest level of the minors; last year, his .272/.395/.375 output in 453 Iowa ABs was even better by virtue of weighted measures (111 wRC+). It will be interesting to see if a non-contender takes a flier on him in the hopes that he proves to be a big-league late bloomer.
Zobrist has been out of action since May as he deals with the ongoing ramifications of a divorce. He wasn’t off to a particularly hot start in 2019, as his .241/.343/.253 slash was far less than fans have come to expect of the multitalented greybeard. At 38-years-old, Zobrist is playing in the last year of a four-year/$56MM deal signed with Chicago prior to 2016.
This is the second time Bote has been optioned this month. Despite a .262/.359/.435 (106 wRC+) profile this year, the 26-year-old has been nonetheless wearing one for the team in recent weeks, as the activation of Steve Cishek saw him down to Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 19, only to be recalled on Aug. 25 when Anthony Rizzo started ailing. With this option, the big league sophomore will need to remain in Triple-A for a minimum of ten days.