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Ben Zobrist to Cubs: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2015

Kansas City Royals' Ben Zobrist bats against the Detroit Tigers during a baseball game at Comerica Park Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Utility man Ben Zobrist signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, as first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

The Cubs would later confirm the deal would run through the 2019 season. 

Per the New York Post's Ken Davidoff, Zobrist will receive a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the deal. In the fourth year, he can designate eight teams to which he can block a trade.

The 34-year-old began the 2015 season of a four-year deal with the Oakland Athletics after nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and now-Cubs manager Joe Maddon. The A's dealt him to the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline, where he saw a bit of an upswing in his play. 

Seeing time at four different positions in 59 regular-season games with Kansas City, Zobrist hit .284 with seven home runs and 23 RBI, helping the Royals win their first World Series in 30 years.

Due to a groin injury to star left fielder Alex Gordon, Zobrist received plenty of outfield playing time. He spoke about his stint with the Royals with ESPN.com's Doug Padilla:

I probably wouldn't have been put in a better situation as far as needs of the team, the situation the team was in and just being a layup to getting into the playoffs, pretty much. ... The fact that this team really gets along, it really makes everything off the field that much more enjoyable. It just makes you more comfortable on the field.

A player who can hit out of the No. 2 spot, Zobrist can work the opposing pitcher and has the bat control to hit the ball to all fields. His veteran presence will be a welcomed sight to help Chicago's younger batters. 

And the Cubs have plenty of those, such as developing stars Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell. Each of those players are 23 years old or younger and hit 10 home runs or more last season.

To top it off, Zobrist's defensive versatility is a great asset to have if Chicago gets hit by the injury bug. For Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, it's a great signing:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Ben Zobrist is exactly what Cubs need: on-base skills, low Ks, versatility. Four years is hefty for a 34-year-old, but $14M/year palatable.

After the Cubs traded infielder Starlin Castrowho primarily played second base down the stretch last seasonto the New York Yankees on Tuesday, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, opportunities at second base could be open for Zobrist and 23-year-old infielder Javier Baez.

Adding Zobrist's experience, which includes appearances in two World Series, is only going to help the Cubs moving forward after they made the postseason for the first time since 2008 last season.

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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