Joe Maddon believes Ben Zobrist could be the right guy at the right time for the Cubs.
After getting swept out of the NLCS, the Cubs made a splash and signed the veteran Zobrist to a four-year, $56 million deal Tuesday night, trading away Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees to make room on the roster.
And Maddon is ecstatic. It helps that "Zo," as Maddon calls him, has played more games for the skipper than any other player after their time together with the Tampa Bay Rays.
"When he shows up in our clubhouse, you can already recognize and feel the kind of impact he's going to have on our guys," Maddon said as the Cubs introduced Zobrist amid the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville Wednesday afternoon.
Maddon said Zobrist is a consummate professional and made a special point to include that Zobrist - who will be 35 in May - "takes great care of himself."
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Maddon mentioned most of the Cubs' clubhouse leadership in 2015 came from pitchers (though catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero were solid veteran presences in the locker room, too) and is anxious to see Zobrist's impact on the young players.
Maddon also admitted it was tough for the Cubs to lose a "wonderful" player in Castro.
"I love Starlin Castro," Maddon said. "I think he's going to be very productive in the American League with the Yankees. But to get 'Zo' to walk into the door right now among a lot of the young players and be able to exhibit or exude this kind of influence.
"Not only his work ethic, but how to play the game, play the game properly, show up every day, be ready to play. That's who he is, man. I'm really excited. He's going to make a big impact on our team this year and for the next several years."