New York Mets Rumors: Is Ben Zobrist A Trade Target?


New York Mets Rumors: Could Ben Zobrist Be A Target As The Trade Deadline Nears?

Coming into the season, the biggest question mark for the New York Mets was who would be the starting shortstop. With the amount of injuries the Mets have endured, there can be an argument made that shortstop is now nowhere near the top of the list for question marks surrounding the team. It is never easy to replace one injured player, let alone more than one starter and his backups. But, if there is one person who could potentially do it in the major leagues right now, it is the Oakland Athletics’ Ben Zobrist. Interestingly enough, Zobrist is a player that the Mets seem to have their eye on.

According to Matt Ehalt of the New Jersey Record, the Mets are indeed interested in the Athletics’ 34-year old utility man. While he cautions that there is nothing currently in the works, he has sources that have confirmed that the Mets are indeed interested in Zobrist.

Zobrist is a player that we pinpointed as a potential addition for the Mets prior to the season starting, as they have been connected to a number of names since the offseason as they looked to upgrade their infield. Of all the players that have been linked to the Mets in some way though, Zobrist is the one that would help them the most.

The versatility that he brings to the field would unable manager Terry Collins to have limitless combinations to use in his everyday lineup. Not only is Zobrist a switch-hitter, giving Collins flexibility in that alone, Zobrist is capable of playing multiple positions in both the infield and outfield. He has extensive playing time in right field, second base and shortstop, but has also logged innings in right field and first base in a pinch. That sort of versatility would be a great weapon for a manager to have, especially in the NL where late game maneuvers are needed more often than in the AL.

More from Mets Rumors

He would also give the Mets insurance incase Wilmer Flores falters again at shortstop. Flores has been up and down at times this season both in the field and at the plate, so having insurance is never a bad thing. Zobrist should not be the replacement for Flores though, instead the Mets should use the versatility that he brings to the table to their advantage to strengthen not only one position, but two.

With the Mets, Zobrist would solve the problem they have at third base without actually playing there. He would enable the Mets to move Daniel Murphy back to third base, something they were doing with Dilson Herrera manning second until he broke his finger. That would give the Mets their strongest lineup, as Zobrist is a big upgrade at the plate over the soft hitting Ruben Tejada, despite the hot streak that he has been on recently.

Zobrist has had his struggles this season, slashing .234/.310/.403, which is well below his career numbers and what had been the norm for him the past four seasons. But, he had been battling a knee injury during the early part of the season that turned out to be a little worse than he or the Athletics originally thought. He was forced to have surgery, and just returned this past week.

Apr 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) throws out a runner at first base during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

His numbers have dropped a bit since he returned off the DL, but time to knock off the rust is expected. He has shown over the past four seasons that he is a capable performer, reaching double-digit home runs and steals each of those seasons.

If the Mets do indeed inquire about Zobrist and get serious about getting him, they have to use his versatility to their advantage. Acquiring him and just having him replace Flores at shortstop would be a lateral move and poor decision. He has a lot more value to them playing second base with Murphy at third, and being the backup corner outfielder, representing an upgrade over Darrell Ceciliani and John Mayberry when he isn’t playing first base.  Also, being in the last year of his contract, it should not take much in the way of a trade package to acquire Zobrist, and if things don’t work out, he will be gone in a couple of months anyway.

The Mets cannot wait around for Wright to recover from his back injury, as they aren’t sure he actually will. They have to make a decision about Zobrist sooner than later, as there are rumors that the Chicago Cubs are also planning to target him as the trade deadline nears. He could be the piece that helps the Mets stay on track and not go off the rails as it looked like they may in recent games.

Next: Where are the Mets in our MLB Power Rankings?

More from Empire Writes Back