Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-Ray Zobrist happy to head to Midwest with Cubs

Switch-hitting free agent Ben Zobrist speaks with reporters at Major League Baseball's winter meetings after it was announced that Zobrist has signed with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) TNMH123

Switch-hitting free agent Ben Zobrist speaks with reporters at Major League Baseball's winter meetings after it was announced that Zobrist has signed with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) TNMH123

NASHVILLE — As a free agent for the first time, former Rays All-Star Ben Zobrist diligently sorted through his options of where to sign from the Mets to the Giants.

But he really was hoping to stay in the Midwest, close to his family and his roots. So when the Cubs offered that, plus the chance to reunite with former Rays manager Joe Maddon and be part of a team that has a legitimate chance to bring a long-awaited championship to Chicago, as well as $56 million over four years, he had an easy answer.

"It was a slam dunk," Zobrist said Wednesday. "We had some great options out there, some really great teams, and I don't think there was a wrong choice for us.

"But in the end, our heart wanted to be in Chicago as a family. Wanted to play for this team, wanted to play for Joe Maddon again, and I want to win a championship as a Chicago Cub.

"That's my one goal the next four years, is we've got to win a championship and bring a World Series trophy back to Chicago."

CABBY TO METS: Former Rays SS Asdrubal Cabrera got the multi-year deal and the starting job he was looking for from the Mets, a reported $16.5 million for two years plus a 2018 option. Cabrera, 30, hit .265 with 15 home runs last season while making $7.5 million and had hoped to stay with the Rays, but they weren't interested in a longer deal. The Mets also acquired 2B Neil Walker from Pittsburgh for LHP Jon Niese.

TRADE TALKING: The Rays did plenty of talking again Wednesday but likely will head home today with lots of ideas but no deals.

"It's been a busy couple days, so busy I'm not sure what day it is or even what year it is at some points late in the night," baseball operations president Matt Silverman. "There are so many different possibilities out there, but nothing has come to fruition yet, and we might walk away from these meetings and the follow-up conversations with nothing. But we'll feel better about doing nothing having gone through all these conversations and pursuing different avenues."

RULING CLASS: For the second straight year, the Rays may have the first player taken in the Rule 5 draft of minor-leaguers not on 40-man rosters. Arizona took C Oscar Hernandez a year ago, and the Phillies are said to be strongly considering OF Tyler Goeddel this year in the draft that requires the player to be kept in the majors (or on the major-league DL) all season.

Goeddel, 23, is a 2011 supplemental first-round pick who hit .279 with 12 homers, 72 RBIs and a .783 on-base plus slugging percentage at Double-A Montgomery, his first season above Class A. OF Joey Rickard, 24, who made it to Triple A last season is also among the candidates to be taken.

"If we lose a player or two, it's an indication of the depth and talent we have in the system,'' Silverman said.

Also, manager Kevin Cash will be part of a meetings recap show at 7-8 tonight on 620-AM, hosted by Andy Freed and Dave Wills and featuring Neil Solondz.

AROUND THE MAJORS: The Astros, who were among the teams interested in Rays relievers RHP Brad Boxberger and LHP Jake McGee, found their closer in getting Ken Giles from Philadelphia for what may end up a four-player package including RHP Vincent Velasquez and LHP Brett Oberholtzer. … The White Sox acquired INF Brett Lawrie from the A's for minor-league LHP Zachary Erwin and RHP J.B. Wendelken. … The Yankees traded LHP Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two minor-leaguers.

Ex-Ray Zobrist happy to head to Midwest with Cubs 12/09/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 11:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays series preview: Who are the Mariners?


    The Rays are back home again, duking it out with another club in the American League Wild Card chase — the Mariners, who have a slight advantage over Tampa Bay. Here's the information you need to know about Seattle before the action kicks off.

    Record: 61-61, third in AL West

    Starter Erasmo Ramirez will face the Rays after they traded him to the Mariners in July.
  2. Florida Gators' Malik Zaire: 'This is everything to me'


    GAINESVILLE — We're two weeks and one day away from the Florida Gators' Sept. 2 season opener against Michigan, and the quarterback position remains unresolved.

    "This is everything to me..." said Malik Zaire, the grad transfer from Notre Dame. "I have everything to prove, everything to lose."
  3. 1997 USF Bulls: Jay Mize, a 'relentless, fearless' safety and entrepreneur


    USF football alumnus Jay Mize, 39, poses for a portrait at Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery located at 1611 W Swann Avenue in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Mize, a member of the first USF football team, has evolved into an immensely successful businessman and entrepreneur and he owns the Irish 31 pubs.
  4. Revisiting the inaugural 1997 USF Bulls football roster


    The 1997 USF football team. (University of South Florida, USF Bulls)
  5. 1997 USF Bulls: Charlie Jackson navigates life's speed bumps


    USF wide receiver Charlie Jackson (1) strives for extra yardage as he is brought down from behind by the Citadel's Rob Nichols (29) in the first quarter on Sept. 14, 1997. (Times 1997)