Washington Nationals Lose Ben Zobrist Sweepstakes To Chicago Cubs

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The Nats end up losing the Ben Zobrist sweepstakes as he is reportedly signing with the Chicago Cubs.

The Washington Nationals had been in the mix for free agent Ben Zobrist, who would have filled the primary need for the team at second base. However, the Nats are out of the mix as Zobrist is heading to the Chicago Cubs to join his former manager in Tampa Bay, Joe Maddon. The news was reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network:

Earlier tonight, it was also reported by Rosenthal and Jon Morosi that the Cubs are in trade conversations with the New York Yankees that involve Starlin Castro. That deal has now been agreed upon, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. With Zobrist getting four years and $56 million from Chicago, you have to wonder if a deal for the 35-year-old has become too much in terms of price for Washington.

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Earlier today, president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo told the media that the Nats did have plans to meet with Zobrist’s representatives, but not with Zobrist personally:

With Zobrist not choosing the Nationals, that creates even more of a hole at second base. Plus, the organization still has to decide if Trea Turner is going to be the starting shortstop on opening day and where Yunel Escobar is going to play, if he is not traded:

Right now, the candidates at second base would be Danny Espinosa, who had 13 home runs this season, Escobar (who hasn’t played at the position in the big leagues since 2007), and Turner. Turner did play in 12 games at second base this season, including six starts, but could he start the year in the minors and allow Escobar/Espinosa to begin the year at shortstop?

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As for what this would mean for the Nationals going forward, they have appeared to struck out on all three big names they had been linked to this winter: Zobrist, Darren O’Day (who signed with the Orioles), and Aroldis Chapman (who was going to be traded to the Dodgers, but is being investigated for an alleged domestic violence incident).

Next: Washington Nationals News: Baker Clarifies Comments On Chapman

But, on a plus side for the Nats, Zobrist did not sign with the Mets, who were another serious suitor for his services. It is important to remember that the offseason doesn’t end after this week and there is plenty of time for the Nationals to make moves before the spring training in February. However, they still have a lot of work to do other than just signing Oliver Perez for the bullpen.

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