There has been much speculation about when, or whether, Ben Zobrist would return to the Cubs after going on indefinite leave of absence to deal with his pending divorce.
Now, we have a bit more clarity on when this might happen:
Ben Zobrist to start a rehab assignment soon, per Theo.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 26, 2019
Now, that statement by Theo Epstein doesn’t tell us anything more than that Zobrist will go to the minor leagues on a rehab assignment to get ready to play in the major leagues again. He’s now been out for almost three months, so it would likely take him some time to get up to speed.
Before that happens, Zobrist would have to be removed from the restricted list and placed back on the 40-man roster. Here’s some info on how that might go, posted here four days ago:
Fourth is for Ben Zobrist: July 31— Cubs Prospects - Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 21, 2019
According to AZ Phil @thecubreporter, if Zo isn’t reinstated before 8/1, he’ll need commissioner approval to play again in 2019. By 7/31 he needs added back to 40-man and agree to be optioned to inactive list in minors until ready to play. 5/5.
It would seem, then, that Zobrist would likely be added back to the 40-man roster by July 31 — five days from now — and then at a certain point in August, he’d go on Iowa’s active roster and play there till he’s ready. September 1 seems a logical return point, given that timeframe.
Zobrist wasn’t hitting all that well when he went on leave: .241/.343/.253 (20-for-83) with just one extra-base hit, a double. Considering what caused the leave, though, I suppose you can see how that might have affected his play.
The Cubs, then, will need to make a 40-man roster move soon, and perhaps more than one, if they make a trade before the July 31 deadline. In any case, we should know more about this very soon.
As always, we await developments.