Ben Zobrist
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Ben Zobrist to begin rehab assignment

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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist is on the cusp of a rehab assignment, club president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters Friday. He expects to begin a Minor League assignment next weekend and may be eligible for the postseason if the Cubs reinstate him on or before August 31.

Zobrist, 38, cited a ‘personal matter’ when he took an unexpected leave of absence from the team back in May, after which he was placed on the restricted list. It was later revealed that he had filed for legal separation from his wife, Julianna Zobrist, though his status with the team was left somewhat murky with no scheduled return date.

Prior to his temporary departure from Major League Baseball, Zobrist appeared in 26 games for the Cubs during the 2019 season, batting .241/.343/.253 with one double, 10 RBI, and a .596 OPS across 99 plate appearances. He’s not too far removed from one of his best career performances, however, as he posted a .305 average and 3.6 fWAR with the team during his campaign in 2018. While his impact on the Cubs will be understandably dimmed given his long road back to the majors and the limited playing time he’ll receive in September, it’s a promising start.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.