KC Royals Lose Ben Zobrist To Chicago Cubs
By John Viril
The KC Royals lost utility player Ben Zobrist when he agreed to a contract with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal reported the deal on Twitter:
Ken Davidoff from the New York Post reported that Ben Zobrist received a four-year contract,worth $56 million. Davidoff’s sources indicated that the 35-year-old Zobrist received a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, which reduces to clause that allows him to block deals to eight teams of his choice in the final year.
Almost immediately after announcing the Zobrist deal, the Cubs traded incumbent shortstop Starlin Casto to the New York Yankees in return for right-handed starter Adam Warren and a player to be named later. Apparently Zobrist will play replace Castro at second base in Chicago.
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By snatching Ben Zobrist away from the Giants and Mets, Cubs president Theo Epstein is addressing his team’s high strikeout rate with a top-of-the-order switch hitter who has both a high contact rate (11.4% K rate in 2015) and on base percentage (.355 career OBP).
While the KC Royals pretty much knew that the market for Zobrist had zoomed beyond their comfort zone when teams began to add a fourth year to their offers, losing him is still a blow. Now the Kansas City Royals are pretty much locked into opening the 2016 season with the unproductive Omar Infante at second base.
Yes, there is hope that Infante’s production will improve after off-season surgery remove bone spurs from his right elbow that have plagued him in his first two seasons in Kansas City. However, relying on him as a lineup solution isn’t exactly optimal. Plus, KC Royals general manager can’t persuade Alex Gordon to return, the market is fresh out of familiar replacements.
We can now close the book on Ben Zobrist’s short, but productive time with the KC Royals. He filled in for left fielder Alex Gordon when he missed time with a severe groin pull in July, and then replaced Omar Infante at second base when it became clear that Infante just wasn’t hitting. Zobrist helped the Royals secure their second title in franchise history, and his wife gave birth to a daughter whom they gave the middle name “Royal”. I guess neither KC Royals fans, or the Zobrists, will ever forget their time in KC.
Next: Royals Suffer OF Sticker Shock At Winter Meetings
Zobrist is the first major position player domino to fall this winter. I expect a flurry of deals not that executives have a feel for the market.