By: Joe Messineo

What Will the Mets Do If They Fail to Sign Ben Zobrist?


The Mets need help in the middle infield, and they think that they know who can provide it: free agent IF/OF Ben Zobrist. Zobrist is the ideal fit for the Mets, as he can play second base or shortstop, two positions where the Mets are very thin right now.

But Zobrist isn’t a Met yet – and he may never be. The Mets are far from the only team interested in Zobrist. Early-offseason sources pegged the number of teams interested in Zobrist at as high as 20. At least 10 have spoken with his agent. And at least a couple of teams are still competing with the Mets to land the free agent – including the Mets’ division rivals, the Washington Nationals.

So what happens if another team gets Ben Zobrist? What will the Mets do then? Here are four possibilities.

Sign Daniel Murphy

The Mets made it clear early on that they were ready to move on from Murphy. Murphy was great at the plate in the 2015 postseason, but his record-setting home run streak may have driven up his asking price. Besides, he’s a poor defensive player, and the Mets are looking to improve in that department this offseason.

With that said, the Mets may reconsider Murphy if their dream of getting Zobrist disintegrates. Sources have indicated that the Mets are considering a reasonable offer for Murphy, and there’s a belief within the organization that Murphy might take a discount to stay with the only franchise he’s ever known. Murphy would stay in his old spot at second, and he might be able to back up first or third as well. He’s not an ideal solution, but he’d at least plug the hole that he threatens to create by leaving for another team.

Trade for Starlin Castro

The Cubs have let it be known that their talented but inconsistent young shortstop is available for trade. The Mets would prefer not to part with the top prospects that it would take to land Castro, but if they lose out on Zobrist, they may not have much of a choice. Getting a new shortstop would allow them to move Wilmer Flores over to second base. Ruben Tejada is the current shortstop solution, but he could easily get non-tendered this offseason, as he’s due for a raise through arbitration.

Castro won’t come cheap, but the Cubs may become more willing to part with them if they’re the ones who sign Zobrist. With Zobrist and current Cubs like Javier Baez, the Cubs will have a glut of middle infielders and will be determined to move one – that one, presumably, being Castro.

Focus on the Outfield Instead

The Mets don’t want to fork over big prospects for Castro. They seem to consider Murphy and free agent SS Ian Desmond to be overpriced. Other middle infield options, like free agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera, may be signed by other teams by the time Zobrist commits. So where does that leave the Mets?

If the Mets shy away from the options above, they could just target a cheap stopgap player or promote a young guy from the farm and focus on improving in another area instead. Part of Zobrist’s appeal is his ability to play the outfield, another spot where the Mets could use help. Perhaps the Mets would consider hanging on to Tejada at shortstop, moving Flores to second, and spending their offseason budget on outfield help instead.

There are plenty of solid outfield options on the market this offseason, ranging from the big budget (Jason Heyward, though you shouldn’t count on the Mets signing him) to the more cost-effective (Denard Span). The Mets do have some young guys like 2B Dilson Herrera waiting on the farm, so standing pat isn’t out of the question.

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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