The market this year is pretty awful if you’re looking for a bat. While the starting and relieving markets are really robust, the bats that are definitely available include Justin Upton, Will Venable, and Gerardo Parra. Upton is a big name in a big slump, Venable is a nice complementary piece, and Parra is a nice complementary piece performing at a star level right now (will it last?). I could make an argument that the Cubs are a fit for at least the latter two (and I’ll keep pointing to Venable/Ian Kennedy as a nice, cost-effective, one-stop-shop deal for the Cubs).
But when it comes to substantially upgrading the offense, they probably won’t move the needle. Then again, we’ve already discussed that issue, and why it’s not really easy for the Cubs to dramatically upgrade this offense right now anyway. In short, you’re not going to see the Cubs replace a youngster (or Dexter Fowler or, probably, Starlin Castro) with an import for the last two months, and the best bet for an offensive turn is development internally.
But there’s good news: there’s actually one other bat on the market, and he’s a perfect fit for the Cubs, because he can play anywhere, spelling various youngsters and platooners, all while providing a much-needed infusion of offense!
I’m talking, of course, about A’s utility man Ben Zobrist, in whom the Cubs have long had interest. Perfect, right?
Yes, except that everything I wrote above could apply equally to so many teams throughout baseball. That’s the thing about a pocketknife like Zobrist – he’s a fit, and an overall upgrade, for virtually every team out there. And, with the Trade Deadline just five days away, every team near contention is looking for just such an upgrade.
Hence, Jon Heyman reports that, yes, the Cubs are still interested in Zobrist … but so are the Pirates, Royals, Angels, Yankees, and “several others.”
Zobrist is going to get traded – he makes just $7.5 million this year and will be a free agent after the season – and it’s almost certainly going to be a bidding war to get him. Zobrist, 34, is in the middle of his best offensive season since 2012 (.268/.354/.447, 126 wRC+), though the defensive metrics really dislike his first go in Oakland (he’s played second base and left field). I wouldn’t read too much into that, though, given his long history of success at basically every position on the diamond.
Long story short: “Waaaaaaaaant. However … ”
We’ll keep tabs on Zobrist rumors because of the interest and the fit, but the guess here is he goes to a division contender, and he goes for a significant prospect price.