The front office is not only looking for a starting pitcher and at least one reliever for the backend of the pen, it is believed Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would like to add a position player to the Cubs’ roster. A report from the Sun-Times at the end of May indicated Ben Zobrist was “one of their bigger targets heading into June.” Nearly three weeks ago, it was reported the Cubs would like to acquire Zobrist as soon as possible.
Ben Zobrist was just coming off the DL at the time of the Sun-Times report, and he wasn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball or running around the field like a 20-something year old ballplayer. Zobrist went 9-for-23 (.391/.481/.739) in his previous seven games entering play Friday.
The Cubs were looking to add players last month to the roster to bolster a bench that had kept Joe Maddon from resting his every day lineup. Maddon has not been able to get a majority of his regulars a break. The Cubs have been in just about every game they’ve played in this year. And with a team that considers itself a contender, Maddon has to run out the players that gives his team the best chance to win that day’s game. Can’t plan for tomorrow, just ask Lou Piniella.
The Cubs tried to acquire Ben Zobrist from the Rays in the off-season but lost out to the Oakland A’s. Epstein and Hoyer have reportedly talked to Billy Beane about Zobrist. But Beane may not be willing at this point to send the signal he is giving up on the season.
Ken Rosenthal reported that Billy Beane is willing to trade Ben Zobrist if he receives fair value and moving him would not point to Beane waiving the white flag on the season.
According to Rosenthal, the A’s and Nationals discussed a deal that would have sent OF Michael Taylor from Washington to Oakland for Zobrist. And talks between the two teams may have also included a pitcher going to Oakland in the deal. In other words, Billy Beane knows he has a player that could net him a significant return. Taylor entered the season as the Nationals second best prospect according to Baseball America and he was hitting .228/.285/.367 in 52 games.
Based on reports, teams are beginning to lineup for Ben Zobrist. Both New York teams have been connected to Zobrist along with the Blue Jays, Angels, Dodgers, Nationals and of course the Cubs. When it comes to Ben Zobrist, if he is healthy he can help a team win games and there are likely 20 teams that could benefit from adding him to their roster.
It is believed Billy Beane will trade LHP Scott Kazmir and RHP Tyler Clippard and in separate deals before Zobrist. Beane could likely max out the value for both Kazmir and Clippard while Zobrist continues to build his value.
Jayson Stark thinks that once the dust settles, sometime over the next five weeks or so, that Zobrist will be reunited with his old manager in Chicago. Stark predicted Zobrist ends up being traded to the Cubs.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said deals that are made before the deadline should help the Cubs this season and beyond. Epstein and Hoyer have given indications that paying a huge price for a rental was not part of the front office’s plan.
It is really hard to see the Cubs pay the price to acquire Ben Zobrist from the A’s. But the front office views this year’s team as a contender and anything is possible at this point. One thing is certain, it is a welcomed change to be talking about the players the Cubs could be looking to acquire to win games instead of the prospects they could receive for veterans or sign-and-flip-guys to build up the system.