Over at our main site, Wrigleyville’s Editor-in-Chief Sahadev Sharma wrote up the Cubs’ acquisition of Ben Zobrist, Adam Warren, and Brendan Ryan. The full story is available only to paying subscribers, but we thought you’d enjoy this preview here.
Barely an hour before news broke Tuesday night that the Cubs had made multiple moves, Theo Epstein talked to the media about rumors that were flying around the Winter Meetings.
“There are some guys who are obvious plug-and-play type players for us in free agency, like a starting pitcher, like with John Lackey,” Epstein said. “And there are others who only make sense if we’re able to pull off some other trade.”
The latter is exactly what happened with the Cubs, and, as Epstein put it, the move was essentially swapping Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Ben Zobrist (while paying a little more cash in the long term). One of the Cubs’ stated goals for this offseason was to improve their contact and situational hitting. Zobrist does that, but at first blush, it might seem odd to move Castro, who was one of the Cubs’ better contact hitters last season.
Zobrist’s 88.8 percent contact rate in 2015 was a career high and would have led last season’s Cubs. Even his career average of 84.9 percent would have, actually. Castro was second among Cubs regulars at 82.4 percent, but the fact is this upgrade had more to do with than just contact rate.
“It’s contact to go with on-base skills. They’re really related,” Epstein pointed out. “And then I think the switch-hit component of it as well. I think we were starting to get a little bit vulnerable to the right-handed pitcher with some power and a really good slider. This really mitigates that risk for us. Zobrist is really well rounded from both sides of the plate and can hit really good pitching.”
To read the rest of the article, head over to Baseball Prospectus.
Lead photo courtesy of Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports