With several teams vying for his services, versatile switch-hitter Ben Zobrist will sign with the Chicago Cubs on a four-year, $56 million deal as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is pending a physical.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) December 9, 2015
Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish has the breakdown of Zobrist’s salary in each of the four seasons.
Zobrist breakdown: $2M signing bonus, $10M in 16, $16M in 17, $16M in 18, $12M in 19. #Cubs
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 9, 2015
Zobrist, 34, will likely slot in as the Cubs’ starting second baseman. The former longtime member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays began 2015 with the Oakland Athletics before being traded to the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline. In 126 games, Zobrist batted.276 with 13 HR and 56 RBI.
Contributing a.284 average with seven HR and 23 RBI for the Royals, Zobrist played a key role in the team’s quest to winning the 2015 World Series. In 16 postseason games, Zobrist hit.304 with two HR and four RBI.
Rosenthal had tweeted just moments prior to the signing that the Cubs and New York Mets were the finalists in the Zobrist sweepstakes. Earlier in the day, several reporters, including Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, indicated that the Mets were “pretty optimistic” about signing Zobrist. However, Zobrist personally reached out to assistant GM John Ricco to inform the team of his intentions to sign with the Cubs, per Marc Carig of Newsday.
Zobrist’s decision has less to do with money and more to do with being reunited with his former manager, Joe Maddon and being closer to home.
With Zobrist headed to the Windy City, Rubin adds that the Mets have “no clear-cut Plan B.”
The infield and outfield have become crowded. The Cubs have Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro, and Kris Bryant around the infield. In the outfield, the team has Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, and Javier Baez among their options. With that in mind, the Cubs have dealt one of their stalwarts to make room for Zobrist.
— MLB (@MLB) December 9, 2015
As first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post the Cubs have traded Castro to the New York Yankees. That frees up room at second base for Zobrist. Jack Curry of the YES Network and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports have the Cubs’ return in the trade.
To get Starlin Castro from the Cubs, the Yankees parted with Adam Warren and a player to be named. — Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 9, 2015
Adam Warren and brendan Ryan go to cubs in Castro deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2015
Castro, 25, switched from shortstop to second base last season after his struggling mightily to start the season. The Cubs also had Russell waiting in the wings to play shortstop. But after the switch, Castro hit.353 as mentioned by Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Castro still has $38 million remaining on his contract through the 2019 campaign and the Yankees will pay the entirety, per Heyman.
As for the Cubs, they acquire the 28-year-old swingman Warren. Since 2012, Warren has bounced around the rotation and the bullpen, experiencing success in both roles. In 2015, he appeared in 43 games (17 starts) while going 7-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 131-and-one-third innings. The Cubs also get Ryan, a backup infielder who can play all around the infield.
Prior to his down season in 2015, Castro was a three-time All-Star in Chicago, recording at least 10 HR and 65 RBI in four of his six Major League seasons. He will most likely slot in as the Yankees’ starting second baseman and join an infield headlined by Chase Headley, Didi Gregorious, and Mark Teixeira.
Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman is happy with the move, telling reporters, including YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits that “I like that he’s athletic… I like his age(25)… Can play multiple positions and adds balance to [the] lineup.”
The acquisition of Castro also makes youngster Rob Refsnyder and veteran Dustin Ackley bench players in 2015. The duo was expected to platoon at the position in 2016 but with a full-time second baseman aboard, that is no longer necessary.
The trade is pending physicals.
[Image by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images]