Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Ex-Ray Zobrist happy to head to Midwest with Cubs

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.

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