By: Joe Messineo

Why the Mets Should Target Free Agent IF/OF Ben Zobrist


You can’t be all things to all people, but free agent IF/OF Ben Zobrist is coming pretty close to being all things to all Major League Baseball teams. Because of Zobrist’s versatility in the field, he’s one of this offseason’s hottest commodities. Reports indicate that the number of teams looking at him could be as high as 20. Almost every team in the league could use depth in the infield, outfield, or both, and that’s going to drive up Ben Zobrist’s asking price. That, in turn, has made Mets sources suggest that Zobrist could be too expensive to target this offseason.

That could be a red herring, though, and Mets fans should hope that’s all it is. Because due to their needs and their current position in this league, the Mets should go all-out to acquire Ben Zobrist.

Fixing the Holes

Let’s start with the obvious: the Mets could really, really use Zobrist. They’re losing 2B Daniel Murphy to free agency this offseason, and they have concerns about their shortstops, so they need infield help. They are also wary of CF Juan Lagares after a down season last year, so they need outfield help. Zobrist can handle both infield and outfield assignments, so he’s an ideal fit for a Mets team that wants to keep costs down while filling multiple holes. Yes, Zobrist is a bit pricier than some other options, but he can cover two of the Mets’ needs at once. Consider him a two-for-one special.

The Right Player at the Right Time

So the Mets need Zobrist. So what? So do 19 other teams.

Okay, that’s fair. But are 19 other teams the defending National League Champions? It’s always easy to suggest that a player is overpriced, but budget shopping won’t bring the Mets any closer to a championship. Zobrist can be had for around the same price as

departing free agent Daniel Murphy, and Zobrist can play more positions and switch-hit.

The fact is this: the Mets championship window is officially open. The new Mets brass is too smart to sell the farm and hand out mega-contracts to every free agent while in win-now mode, but they can’t afford to get too cute. Overpaying slightly for talent now could pay huge dividends for the Mets in October. Nobody is suggesting Minaya-level contracts, but this one is a no-brainer. The Mets need Zobrist as much or more as any other team in baseball, and they’re the most competitive team that can say that. It’s time to bite the bullet and pay the man.

Flexible Rental Spots

The Mets are going to be competitive in the 2016 season, and competitive teams look to acquire rentals at the trade deadline. For the Mets, that will likely mean trading for a big hitter with an aspiring contract. Which position that big bat plays depends on which role the Mets fill right now. If they acquire an infielder, then they’ll be shopping for an outfielder at the deadline. If they acquire an outfielder, then they’ll look for an infielder, most likely a shortstop.

But with Zobrist, they don’t have to commit. Zobrist can fill in a second or in the outfield, and that means that the Mets will have a bigger selection to choose from when they go shopping at the trade deadline. Flexibility is valuable in MLB, and that needs to be factored in when considering Zobrist’s cost.

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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