Mets could deem Ben Zobrist too costly

The Mets have interest in free agent IF/OF Ben Zobrist, but a source told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that the Mets might deem Zobrist too costly.

…a source who confirmed the Mets have reached out to the free agent cautioned that the market for the 34-year old utility man will be robust and may be too costly for the National League champions.

An industry source said Monday they expect Zobrist, coming off a World Series championship with the Royals, could command at least a three- or four-year deal worth $40 to $50 million.

Sandy Alderson recently said that the Mets would likely begin the 2016 season with a payroll higher than they began 2015 with, when their Opening Day payroll was $101.3 million.

According to multiple reports, the Mets will likely have a payroll around $92 million or so after arbitration raises are factored in and before spending externally.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Zobrist will eventually sign a deal worth $51 million over three years.

Zobrist, who turns 35 years old next May and is capable of playing second base, third base, shortstop, and the corner outfield., hit .276/.359/.450 with 13 home runs in 126 games split between the A’s and Royals this past season.

In 2015, Zobrist’s UZR (ultimate zone rating) at second base was -6.7 and his UZR in the outfield was -4.7.

Thoughts:

Zobrist can be an extremely valuable player if utilized properly, but with the years and dollars he’s expected to receive, he doesn’t seem like a solid fit for the Mets.

If Zobrist was an above-average defender at shortstop, this would be a different story. But he’s not — and he’s only had limited exposure there over the past few seasons.

Yes, the Mets need an insurance policy at third base in case David Wright‘s back flares up, but signing someone for their age 35, 36, 37, and perhaps age 38 seasons and paying them upwards of $15 million per season is not how you hedge against a potential injury to Wright.

If the Mets had no good internal options for second base, signing Zobrist would make sense, but they already have Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera in-house. They also have the option of sliding Gavin Cecchini (who should be ready at some point in 2016) over to second base if they so choose.

Neither Flores or Herrera is a perfect option, but Herrera in particular has the ability to be a plus player at second base both defensively and offensively.

As far as signing Zobrist and using him all over the diamond is concerned, that would make sense if the Mets weren’t planning on playing Michael Conforto every day. But they are, and there’s no reason to deviate from that plan.

In order to improve, the Mets should be looking to add talent in center field, shortstop, and in the back-end of the bullpen. Zobrist would be a great fit as a jack of all trades and a hedge, but not at the dollars and years he’s seeking.