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Chicago Cubs don't expect to have Ben Zobrist back this season

Ben Zobrist's return from unpaid leave would be a surprise to the Chicago Cubs.

The team is planning for the 38-year-old to be away from the club indefinitely as the final season of his original four-year deal expires. Zobrist left the team on May 7 for personal reasons, which manager Joe Maddon later confirmed was sparked by a divorce between Zobrist and wife Julianna Zobrist.

"We have to be prepared mentally that he's not going to (be back), but that doesn't mean he's not going to," Maddon said last week. "It's all honorable on his side, so whatever he decides to do we're definitely going to be on board with. Of course we'd love to have him back, but I have no idea how that's going to play out."

Since then, the Cubs have officially made moves toward life without Zobrist.

Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was added and the Cubs landed closer Craig Kimbrel in a three-year, $43 million deal intended to solidify a bullpen without a set ninth-inning man.

Zobrist was owed $12.5 million for the 2019 season, but team president Theo Epstein said he informed Zobrist he owes the Cubs nothing while his off-field focus remains on the family matter.