ben zobrist cubs signingRiver Avenue Blues is the best Yankees blog out there of which I’m aware, and in a recent mailbag, Mike Axisa took an interesting question about the Dodgers signing Howie Kendrick for two years and $20 million (yes, this is going to be about the Cubs … just hold on).

Basically, the question was whether the Yankees goofed by moving too early on the Starlin Castro trade, rather than waiting out the free agent market. Axisa says, of course, if the choice was Kendrick at 2/$20 million plus keeping Adam Warren, or Starlin Castro plus the first round pick they would have lost to sign Kendrick, he would take Kendrick/Warren. Fair. Most didn’t think the Kendrick market would shake out like it did, and Castro has upside that Kendrick does not, but, all in all, Kendrick/Warren/lost pick is probably the better deal.



There were rumors of Cubs’ interest in Kendrick back during the 2015 season, which was long before Castro had even been moved to second base. The best we could square it as a possibility for the Cubs was if they made a series of other moves; one of those paths being trading Castro and moving Addison Russell to shortstop. Since that’s what actually happened, and since the Cubs brought in Ben Zobrist to be *the* second baseman, it’s reasonable to say – for the purposes of discussion – that an alternative for the Cubs at second base would have been Kendrick, if they’d not landed Zobrist.

For the sake of discussion, let’s say the Cubs could have gotten Kendrick for that same two-year, $20 million deal he signed with the Dodgers (I’m not really sure they could have, but it keeps the discussion more interesting). Would you rather have Zobrist at four years and $56 million plus keeping a draft pick, or Kendrick at two years and $20 million, and losing the pick? It’s pretty obviously Zobrist and the pick, right?

You may not realize, but not only is Zobrist a far superior hitter, but he’s also been the better (and more versatile, obviously) defender until last year (when both players rated below average). Zobrist is also only two years older than Kendrick, who will turn 33 this year.

The big difference, I suppose, is that extra $36 million the Cubs could have spent elsewhere, perhaps landing another depth starter or a notable bullpen piece (Darren O’Day, perhaps?). Even still, Zobrist and the pick looks like the much better move.

Other second base options this offseason included Daniel Murphy, who cost the Nationals three years and $37.5 million and a draft pick(!), and Chase Utley, who cost the Dodgers one year and $7 million.



As I’m reflecting on how the Cubs actually wound up approaching second base this offseason, I’m coming to the conclusion that the Cubs really killed it. The Zobrist signing was recently applauded as one of the best moves of the offseason, and that was in isolation. When you consider it in concert with the rest of the Cubs’ offseason, and with what else happened around the league at second base, it is – to me – all the more impressive.

(None of that is to be taken as a shot at Starlin Castro, the erstwhile second baseman, mind you. A decision was made that Castro was going to be dealt, and, when he could be dealt for good value in Adam Warren, everything else followed from there.)




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