There is speculation that coveted free-agent super-utility man, Ben Zobrist will soon be making his decision where he is going to play next season. This decision is supposedly coming sooner rather than later, according to multiple reports around the league.
The latest buzz surrounding Zobrist, who will be turning 35 during next season is that he is focusing on three teams. Zobrist narrowed his search down to the New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and San Francisco Giants.
Zobrist has stated that he wants to play for a winning team and wants to play everyday. The Mets, who will be losing Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes, need to fill several voids. Zobrist can slot into the everyday second baseman role, but when necessary, can also play third for the ailing David Wright and the corner outfield positions.
Zobrist reportedly wants a four-year deal, and the Mets have no problem offering that even with his advancing age.
The Washington Nationals are another “serious” contender to sign Zobrist. The Nationals have Yunel Escobar manning second base as of today. Escobar batted .314 last season. Anthony Rendon will be the everyday third baseman next year if healthy, and Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper will start at the corner outfield positions.
With all this being said, Zobrist, will probably not be guaranteed an everyday starting role with the Nationals unless Escobar is traded (very likely to happen if Zobrist signs). Zobrist is set to meet with the team in person Tuesday at the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
The third team that has emerged as possible suitors for Zobrist, are the San Francisco Giants. With a lot to offer in the Bay Area, (three World Championships in a five-year period is nothing to sneeze at) the Giants could be an attractive destination for Zobrist, who did play with the Oakland Athletics for a brief time last year. Zobrist is not getting any younger, and his biggest request is to play for a winner. Yes, he does want to play everyday and the Giants do have an open spot in left field, but does Zobrist want to play there?
The Giants have young budding stars in Joe Panik and Matt Duffy who will be getting the nod everyday over the aging Zobrist. Most likely Zobrist will be a platoon player and pinch hitter at best with San Francisco, unless he wants to play the outfield.
Zobrist is reportedly looking for a $60 million deal over at least four years, with his decision coming later on this week, after the winter meetings conclude. Who will win the race and sign the grizzled vet? The Mets and the Nationals may both be able to offer starting infield jobs and what could be considered an easier route to the playoffs.