(CBS) When Cubs manager Joe Maddon held his introductory press conference in November 2014, he immediately set expectations by talking about a playoff push in his first season and insinuating anything can happen after that.
On Wednesday, a longtime Maddon disciple took after his teacher. At a press conference at the Winter Meetings in Nashville introducing him as a new Cub, super utilityman Ben Zobrist explained his thinking on agreeing to a four-year, $56-million deal to come to Chicago.
"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," Zobrist said. "And I want to win a championship as a Chicago Cub. That's my one goal in the next four years. We've got to win a championship and bring a World Series trophy back to Chicago. I'm just thrilled for the opportunity."
Zobrist, 34, played for Maddon from 2006-'14 in Tampa Bay, before spending 2015 with Oakland and Kansas City, where he was a champion of the champion Royals. Zobrist is now expected to be a key cog in helping the Cubs reach the same heights.
A native of Eureka in central Illinois, Zobrist cited proximity to home as a big reason for choosing the Cubs over the Mets, who he admitted he was "very serious" about. Another desire of his was to have an anchor position after playing all over the diamond in his career. Zobrist has logged 616 career games at second base, 336 in right field, 229 at shortstop and 111 in left field. He's played every position except pitcher and catcher.
The Cubs dealt three-time All-Star infielder Starlin Castro to the Yankees in a corresponding move Tuesday, opening up the second base spot for Zobrist, though he's ready to play anywhere when needed. A tinkerer with a creative mind, Maddon often moves players all over the diamond late in games as he substitutes batters and defenders for quality matchups and situational reasons.
"It's also going to help to kind of find a home a little more on the diamond," Zobrist said. "We'll talk about that more as time goes on, but I know Joe loves to move us around. And for me, it's about getting reps and making sure I'm prepared to go (to other positions).
"Understanding how that can help a team naturally makes me a National League player."
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed the trade of Castro had more to do with opening space for Zobrist than financial reasons.
"It was really important for Ben to have a spot on the diamond," Hoyer said. "We were intrigued by the possibility of having him and being able to move him around the diamond, and I think Joe still will. But it was important to him to have a position."
Zobrist hit .276 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs in 126 games last season.
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