Ben Zobrist agrees to sign with the Cubs
The Mets have spent the better part of the last month recruiting Ben Zobrist in an effort to join their pursuit for their first World Championship since 1986.
But the Mets failed in their efforts, as the 34-year-old free agent agreed to sign with the Cubs on Tuesday, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The deal is pending a physical, and it’s for four years and $56 million.
This is a disappointing turn of events for the Mets, as all signs were pointing to the super-utility player joining their club as late as 5:00 pm ET. But the Cubs – who may or may not have been in on Zobrist for the duration – clearly became a more attractive option for Zobrist even with their infield excess.
There’s also the Joe Maddon factor, which is significant considering the two spent so many years together in Tampa Bay. That might have proved very significant in the end.
There’s no question Zobrist checked most of the boxes the Mets are seeking to fill this winter. He’s a versatile player, capable of playing at least three positions on the infield as well as both corner outfield spots. He 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. 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 well.
But alas, the pursuit ended in disappointing fashion, and the Mets must quickly turn their attention to alternatives and fast.
Assistant GM John Ricco has said Daniel Murphy could be a fallback option to Zobrist, and they’ve reportedly expressed interest in signing Asdrubal Cabrera and trading for Neil Walker.
But all of those players can be considered drop-offs to Zobrist, even though Zobrist is the older of the three.