Ben Zobrist visited the Mets on Wednesday

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Rich MacLeodIt’s been no secret over the first month or so of the 2015-2016 MLB offseason that the Mets are hot for free agent infielder Ben Zobrist, as it’s recently been reported that he was their No. 1 target.

While he has yet to make a decision, things on that front appear to be progressing as Zobrist visited Sandy Alderson and the Mets on Wednesday of this past week, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Per Rosenthal’s report, Zobrist spent the day with Alderson and Jeff Wilpon in Connecticut, where they toured parts of Westchester, as well as other parts of the state, and had dinner together.

“We’re very interested,” assistant GM John Ricco said on Friday regarding Zobrist.

Ricco did not say if the Mets had made a formal offer to Zobrist.

The Mets are not alone in their interest in Zobrist, however, as Rosenthal later reported on MLB Network that the versatile veteran has recently visited other teams as well, and is expected to visit the Giants soon. Continue reading

Mets are focused on Ben Zobrist, but have considered Dexter Fowler for the outfield

Dexter Fowler


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The Mets are searching for a left-handed complement to Juan Lagares in centerfield, and have been linked to Denard Span as a possible fit, according to multiple reports.

But the Mets are not limiting their search to one player, as Buster Olney of ESPN says the Mets are looking at Dexter Fowler as a possibility to fill that need as well.

Fowler is a similar player to Span, although he’s a couple of years younger, hits for more power and strikes out a little more. But like Span, he has triples speed and could instantly be installed at the top of the Mets lineup, moving Granderson down in the lineup to make for a more ideal flow 1-8.

A switch hitter, Fowler is a base stealing threat, although his success rate has never been particularly good, and creating outs on the bases isn’t exactly what this front office likes in it’s players. But Citi Field and the other big ballparks in the division could play right into Fowler’s strength – his speed – and he could see an uptick in his extra-base production as a result if he were to join the Mets.

From a defensive perspective, Fowler could best be described as average to slightly below average. Those weaknesses could be further exposed in a bigger ballpark than that of Wrigley Field and Minute Maid Park, the two places he’s called home in recent years. And given the Mets need to improve their team-wide defense, having a below average defender up the middle out there on a regular basis does not help in the run prevention department.

There are some problems with Fowler, however, and he’s not an ideal fit by any means. Continue reading

Ben Zobrist or bust for the Mets?

Ben Zobrist


BaronIs it Ben Zobrist or bust for the Mets?

In a report for the New York Post, Ken Davidoff says if the Mets fail to sign the free agent super-utility player, the Mets don’t appear likely to sign a free agent of equal or greater caliber this winter to fill the need, such as Ian Desmond, Asdrubal Cabrera or Howie Kendrick.

Instead, the Mets would focus their efforts on finding a left-handed hitting outfielder to complement Juan Lagares, and explore re-signing Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, as well as other lower-tiered free agents to compete with Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds for the jobs on the middle infield. Continue reading

Ben Zobrist wants, and is likely to sign a four-year contract this winter – Mets no. 1 target

Ben Zobrist


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The Mets continue to target Ben Zobrist in free agency as they search for ways to increase their versatility, improve their contact rate and overall defense in both the outfield and on the middle infield.

Zobrist can play both middle infield positions and the corner outfield positions proficiently. He can also play first and third base and centerfield if needed. He checks a lot of the boxes the Mets are seeking this winter.

The Mets held a conference call with Zobrist in mid-November, which is a subsequent meeting to the one they had with his agents at the GM Meetings in Florida in early November.

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.

But the Mets are not alone in their pursuit for the versatile super-utility player. There are at least ten teams who are reportedly interested in signing Zobrist, and the 34-year-old is looking for a four-year deal.

And due to such demand, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says Zobrist is likely to secure a four-year deal this winter, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says a team guaranteeing the fourth year could be the deciding factor for him.

Rosenthal says Zobrist is the Mets number-one target this winter, but at least ten teams – including the Cardinals, Royals, Giants Mets, Braves and Nationals – have reportedly expressed interest in signing Zobrist.

The Mets and Nationals are expected to be the high bidders for Zobrist, according to Tom Verducci of MLB Network, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York says the Mets are unlikely to sign Zobrist to a four-year deal.

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.

But he’s entering his age-35 season, and a guaranteed four-year deal is a risky proposition for any player. The back-end of such a contract could become an albatross as his bat speed slows and his foot speed diminishes behind the pitching staff.

However, 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.

Zobrist 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.

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, Nov. 29, 9:30 am
Updated, Nov. 29, 12:30 pm, Nov. 30, 10:15 am

Mets, Nationals to be ‘high bidders’ for Ben Zobrist, Cardinals now interested

World Series - New York Mets v Kansas City Royals - Game One


Rich MacLeodOver the first few weeks of the offseason, the Mets have shown clear interest in free agent second baseman Ben Zobrist–but they’re not the only ones.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the division rival Washington Nationals also interested in Zobrist’s services, as they are in need of a left-handed hitting infielder and outfielder–both roles that the switch-hitting veteran can fill.

While Zobrist’s production at the plate and versatility in the field makes him a fit for almost every team in the league, the Mets and Nationals are going to be ‘high bidders’ to sign him in free agency, per Tom Verducci of MLB Network, although the Cardinals have emerged as an interested party, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

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 left-hander pitcher Sean Manea, the Royals second best prospect.

Now, however, Zobrist is a free agent and is not tied to a draft pick, making him a great fit for the Mets–or any other team–as they’re looking to upgrade their defense, their swing-to-contact methodology, and their overall versatility.

The Mets interest in Zobrist has been labeled as serious, and the club reportedly held a conference call with Zobrist last week in an effort to recruit him to Flushing.

This past season, the 34-year-old Zobrist hit .276/.359/.450 with 36 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBI and an .809 OPS in 126 games with the A’s and Royals.

At least ten teams – including the Cardinals, Royals, Mets and Nationals – have reportedly expressed interest in Zobrist.

Original post: November 24, 2:30 pm
Updated: November 25, 9:30 am