Ben Zobrist missed much of the 2019 season attending to personal matters, and then became a free agent at the end of the year.
Now, it appears he’s played his last major-league game:
Ben Zobrist hasn’t announced anything but is at home and has no plans to play. Very nice career: started versatility trend and was rewarded for it, won 2 rings— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 12, 2020
Ben turns 39 in May, and if he has “no plans to play” in 2020, his career is likely over.
He played nine years under Joe Maddon in Tampa, and that was reportedly one of the reasons the Cubs signed him. Joe valued Ben’s versatility and he showed that by playing all but three field positions (catcher, third base and center field) in his four seasons in Chicago.
Zobrist hit .269/.362/.411 with 40 home runs in 461 games as a Cub. That produced 7.3 bWAR, which doesn’t sound like much except pretty much all of that was done in the first three seasons. He rated slight negative bWAR (-0.1) in 2019.
The clubhouse leadership he provided was worth as much as the numbers, in my view. Oh, and this [VIDEO].
That will always be a signature moment in Cubs history and for it, we are forever grateful. I hope the Cubs will bring Ben back sometime this season, presuming he’s done playing, so the team and fans can honor him.
And give Joe Maddon some credit here: If this really is it, Ben’s last appearance in a major-league uniform was as a pitcher [VIDEO].
He issued a couple of walks, but got out of the inning scoreless, and struck out Yadier Molina to end it. Until March 26, that’s the most recent Cubs regular-season inning on the mound.
Last September, Sara Sanchez wrote this appreciation of Ben’s career, and it’s worth re-reading now and in terms of what to say about him, I couldn’t have said it better.
I will miss Ben Zobrist and his playoff and World Series performance will always be a highlight in the pantheon of Cubs history. I wish him well in whatever he decides to do going forward. (But I won’t miss his walkup music.)