Mets are ‘very interested’ in signing Ben Zobrist
The Mets continue to search for ways to increase their versatility, improve their contact rate and overall defense in both the outfield and on the middle infield.
No player better fits the profile of what the Mets are seeking than Ben Zobrist, as he can play both middle infield positions and the corner outfield positions proficiently. He can also play first and third base and centerfield if needed.
And according to Tim Rohan of the New York Times, the Mets are, “very interested” in Zobrist.
Rohan said the Mets held a conference call with Zobrist on Wednesday, which is a subsequent meeting to the one they had with his agents at the GM Meetings in Florida last week.
Zobrist is a contact-oriented hitter, and showed during the World Series against the Mets he is one of the better fastball hitters in the game, even as he concluded his age-34 season.
The Mets were interested in acquiring Zobrist in a trade this past season from the A’s, but those talks stalled thanks to a disagreement over the asking price. Zobrist was ultimately sent to the Royals in a deal that netted Billy Beane LHP Sean Manea, the Royals second best prospect.
But now, Zobrist is a free agent, and he would still be an outstanding fit for the Mets as they seek to improve their defense, their swing-to-contact methodology, and their overall versatility.
All things being equal, Zobrist would be an upgrade to Daniel Murphy and provide stability up the middle. He would help transform the top of their lineup from swing-and-miss to more contact with an ability to get on-base, and be another solid, veteran leader for the clubhouse as they endeavor to win their first World Championship since 1986.
Zobrist also did not receive a qualifying offer, so he is not tied to draft compensation next summer.
But he’s going to have a lot of suitors, which could drive his price up. Rohan says ten teams have expressed interest in Zobrist, who is looking for a four-year deal. He’s also entering his age-35 season in 2016, so his skills will undoubtedly start to diminish, if they haven’t done so already. That means his foot speed might slow down and his bat speed might be reduced.
He’s also expressed a lot of interest to stay in Kansas City, as he’s the perfect player for their system – he fit right into their organization and helped make their World Championship in 2015 possible. At this stage of his career, he could consider taking a lesser deal to remain with the Royals, rather than explore a new frontier with a team like the Mets or the other teams who will undoubtedly try and recruit him.
Zobrist is also not tied to draft compensation, as he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after being dealt to the Royals mid-year.
Zobrist hit .276/.359/.450 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI in 126 games with the A’s and Royals in 2015. He underwent April knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.