Kosuke Fukudome’s four-year, $48 million contract comes to an end in 60 games, but it sounds like the disappointing outfielder may not be in Chicago when that happens.
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that “at least four teams are zeroing in on” Fukudome as a trade target and presumably even Cubs general manager Jim Hendry can see clearly enough through his rose-colored glasses to get whatever value he can out of him.
Chicago hasn’t gotten what it paid for in Fukudome, whose post-April fades, inability to hit left-handed pitching, and lack of power combined to make him much less of an impact player than expected, but as a platoon corner outfielder he’s still plenty useful and has posted a .369 on-base percentage in 511 games.
Levine speculates that the Indians are one of the teams interested in Fukudome, whose contract gives him the ability to block a trade to six undisclosed teams. Assuming the Cubs are willing to pay most of the $4 million or so he’s still owed in order to get even a mid-level prospect, Fukudome is a smart target for contenders looking to add a solid bat versus right-handed pitching without giving up a ton.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.