The Mets have made it quite clear their top free agent target is Ben Zobrist this winter.
But the Mets can’t rule out the possibility of Zobrist signing elsewhere, especially at least ten teams interested in his services and the possibility he could command a contract outside of the Mets comfort zone in terms of years.
So, the Mets have a couple of contingencies to Zobrist, in the event he chooses to sign with another club.
Assistant GM John Ricco said on Friday the Mets have been in contact with the agents for Daniel Murphy, and could consider exploring a new contract with him in the event they are unable to procure Zobrist’s services next season.
Ricco has also said previously they’d be comfortable having Dilson Herrera as their Opening Day second baseman next season if they are unable to sign any of their free agent targets this winter.
The Mets could also consider signing or trading for a shortstop if they are not able to acquire a second baseman.
Whatever the Mets end up with, Ricco insists the club has the ability to escalate their payroll to accommodate the roster, if needed.
As for Herrera, he’s still only 21, and he’s done it all at every level with the exception of the big leagues to date. He makes contact, he has power, he has first-to-third speed, he’s strong and he is an improving defensive player.
If the Mets decide to put their faith in Herrera, it will undoubtedly come with growing pains at first. In a way, his cups of coffee at the big league level have already come with growing pains.
But he’s an excitable five-tool capable player, and having that in a cost-controlled manner over the next three years is hardly something to discount, especially with a payroll which is starting to balloon naturally from raises through arbitration.
It comes down to a known quantity versus an unknown quantity, and Herrera is more of a question mark than either Zobrist or Murphy, even though he may have the highest upside over the long-term.
And it’s clear the Mets would prefer to sign Zobrist and go with a surer bet than Herrera.