The Mets and Nationals have been viewed as finalists to land Ben Zobrist in free agency this winter, and he is said to be mulling a decision which could come in the next couple of days.
The Giants and Dodgers have reportedly been in the mix to sign Zobrist as well.
But he Mets seem optimistic they will be able to land Zobrist, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Zobrist currently has a four year, $80 million offer on the table, but that the Mets are still perceived as the favorites to sign him.
However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that offer is not from the Mets, who are doubting the validity of that report.
Zobrist would be a tremendous addition to this team, but if that’s accurate, it should be well above the Mets comfort zone in a possible deal for him.
It’s possible this could be an effort to drive up his price tag, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was told there is, “no way” Zobrist has an $80 million offer on the table.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote on Tuesday the expectation is Zobrist will sign for four years and a little less than $60 million.
According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, Zobrist has “at least” one, four-year contract offer right now, and could decide on his destination within several hours.
Meanwhile, the Cubs appear to be re-emerging as a suitor for Zobrist, as Rosenthal says they are involved in the sweepstakes to land his services.
However, Rosenthal says the Cubs need to get other things done in order for Zobrist to be a fit, but he is currently deciding between the Mets and Cubs, and the Nationals seem to be on the periphery.
The Cubs have Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Starlin Castro on their infield already. So unless they want Kyle Schwarber to catch full-time so they can put Zobrist in left field – a position he doesn’t find desirable right now – then it’s hard to envision a fit.
Unless they move one of their infielders, of course, and Rosenthal is reporting the Cubs are trying to trade Castro to the Yankees, which would open up a spot on the infield for Zobrist.
Even so, Zobrist would still create a situation where there is excess on their infield, so the Cubs might still have to move another infielder to make this work.
Of course, there is Zobrist’s relationship with Maddon from their days with the Rays, and that cannot be overlooked in this situation.
They have reportedly been in discussions with the Rays and Cubs in deals involving Baez.
The Mets front office entertained Zobrist and his family in New York last week, giving him a tour of the stadium and surrounding suburbs as well as having dinner with him before he departed for San Francisco to visit the Giants, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
The Mets met again with Zobrist’s agents in Nashville on Monday.
Zobrist has told his suitors he wants to have a primary position and not move around on a daily basis. Assistant GM John Ricco said on Monday the club has assured Zobrist that if he signs with the Mets, second base – which is his preference – would be his primary position.
“He mentioned to us, at this stage, although he’s versatile, it’s easier to have a place to go on a semi-regular basis and then move around,” Ricco explained on Monday.
The Mets remain the most logical landing spot for Zobrist, considering they can offer him his preferred position right now. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Monday they view Zobrist as a second baseman, but with Yunel Escobar, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon currently in the fold, its not as simple as he claims.
The Giants, meanwhile, reportedly want Zobrist to be their primary left fielder, and given their proximity to his home in Tennessee plus a less desirable playing situation, that might take the Giants out of the race for his services.
And the Dodgers are apparently no longer in the running to sign Zobrist, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
The Mets have a three-year proposal in place for Zobrist, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. However, multiple reports suggest Zobrist is looking for a four-year deal, and his suitors know that could be the kicker in landing him.
There’s the issue of Zobrist’s age, and the risk associated with guaranteeing four years to a player entering his age-35 season, which is presumably why the Mets were originally reluctant to give Zobrist a four-year deal.
But if the Mets intend to win right now, it may be a risk the Mets have to take with Zobrist, and deal with the consequences of the long side of such a contract.
He is not tied to draft compensation, as he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after being dealt to the Royals by the A’s mid-year.
Previously, the Mets hadn’t seemed inclined to give Zobrist a four-year deal, according to multiple reports. But Ricco has said the Mets are prepared to meet Zobrist’s demands, as they feel comfortable with how he will age despite entering his age-35 season in 2015. So the Mets are prepared to negotiate the fourth year for Zobrist if signs point to Zobrist preferring the Mets, Sherman says.
“A lot of what we talked about with him was his workout regimen, his diet,” Ricco said. “I think this guy is going to give himself a chance to play at a high level as long as possible.
Sherman says the Mets are hopeful a deal could be agreed to on Tuesday. Zobrist is talking with his family today and could come to a decision by Tuesday night, his agents told Kristie Ackert of the Daily News on Tuesday.
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.
Original Post: December 8, 10:11 am
Updated: 2:00 pm, 2:43 pm, 5:33 pm, 5:53 pm, 6:44 pm