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We haven’t seen it much this offseason, but it’s an annual rite: the appearance of the Mystery Team.

While it was originally a legitimate thing – sometimes a team is involved on a free agent or in trade talks, but you’re not entirely sure of the identity until something happens – and it still is to some extent, it’s now a bit of a rumor mill joke. Watch out for the Mystery Team!

It’s in that semi-jovial spirit that I share the following:

The Mystery Team!

The Mets have been the most aggressive on Ben Zobrist for quite some time, having courted him for a while, and I think you’d have to call them the favorite. The Nationals and Giants have money and make sense, as do a few other contenders.

But what about that Mystery Team? Might it be … the Cubs?

Well, in this specific Heyman instance, no:

But could the Cubs be the other, other Mystery Team?

Consider that in two Winter Meetings write-ups today, from Mark Gonzales and Jesse Rogers, the Cubs are mentioned as still in on Zobrist. In neither case do the Cubs sound like being among the most aggressive teams on Zobrist, but it’s fun to pair those reports with Heyman’s discussion and land on the Cubs as yet another Mystery Team … because MYSTERY TEAM!

As for the actual fit, I’m not sure it’s ever gone too far beyond something like this for the Cubs, who’ve had interest in Zobrist before: “we might do a lot of moving on the offensive side to accommodate our pitching needs, we really like Ben Zobrist, he is really versatile and could cover us in a ton of spots depending on what else we’re able to do this offseason, so let’s see what happens.”

In other words, I think Zobrist has been attractive to the Cubs as a guy that they could have in-house, and feel more comfortable sitting back and considering trade options without having to feel like they MUST trade Player A so that they can sign Free Agent B, or they MUST wait to make a serious offer to Free Agent C until they trade Player D.

But I’m not sure that’s going to have enough value to the Cubs to let them compete seriously with the kinds of offers Zobrist will be getting from teams that more desperately need a guy like him. The 34-year-old super utility man can still play all over, still has a great bat, and is going to get paid commensurately – some believe he could get upwards of four years and $60 million. Unless the Cubs have vastly more financial flexibility this offseason than they’ve let on or sources indicated, or unless other paths fall apart for the Cubs, Zobrist is not going to be a fit for the Cubs.

Still, it’s always fun to dream on the Mystery Team(s).

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