According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Mets have made Ben Zobrist their No. 1 target. The Nationals, Giants and Braves are among the teams in on Zobrist. But the Royals are “not expected to offer the same money” in which to re-sign him. Rosenthal is the latest to report that it could take a team going to a four-year deal to land Zobrist.
The Cubs are believed to be interested in signing Ben Zobrist, along with about 20 other teams, with about a dozen teams showing significant interest in the 34-year old super utility man. Zobrist would reportedly like to play for Joe Maddon again, but guaranteed playing time at second base might be an issue with the way the Cubs roster is currently constructed. It is believed Zobrist would prefer to spend a majority of his time at second base while filling in at other positions as needed.
As previously reported, it would likely be easier to list the teams not in the mix for Zobrist than the ones that are. There is not a contending team that could not use Zobrist, and rebuilding teams are also looking into signing him. The Braves are one of the teams that see value in Zobrist according to reports from Ken Rosenthal and David O’Brien.
Rosenthal reported the Braves “interest in Zobrist apparently stems from desire for him to serve as model for younger players as they enter new ballpark in ’17.”
Braves’ GM John Coppolella told Rosenthal, “I can’t comment on any free agent pursuits, but we will explore every possible opportunity to improve club in the short- and long-term. Ben Zobrist brings so much to the table on and off the field that he could help all 30 teams.”
Due to teams lining up to sign Zobrist, it appears it will take a four-year contract to sign him. Zobrist was expected to sign a three-year deal with an AAV of between $15-18 million.
While the Mets have made Zobrist their top target, according to Adam Rubin, the Metropolitans are not as interested in Zobrist if it takes a fourth year. Rubin explained it is highly unlikely the Mets sign Zobrist to a four-year contract.
Zobrist turns 35 in May, which would put him at 38 on the last season of a four-year contract. Zobrist performed rather well with the Royals after the trade from the A’s. And unlike Johnny Cueto, Zobrist increased his market and value going into free agency.
Ben Zobrist batted a combined .276/.359/.450 in 126 games between Oakland and Kansas City with 36 doubles, three triples and 13 home runs for a .809 OPS. Zobrist walked (62) more times than he struck out (56). In 59 games with the Royals in the regular season, Zobrist hit .284/.364/.453 with 16 doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a .816 OPS.
Defensively, Zobrist played second base, third base, right field and left field last season.
The market for Ben Zobrist should come into focus this week as teams start dropping out to move in other directions. And it will be interesting to see if the team that signs him front loads the contract in order to create options at the end of what will likely be a four-year deal.