The New York Mets have been one of the surprise contenders in the NL East Division. It was widely speculated coming into the season that the Washington Nationals would simply run away with the division due to their stacked starting pitching rotation. However that has not deterred the young, upstart Mets from making a run of their own. The Mets are currently sitting only a half game back of the Nationals in first and are also a half game back out of the second wild card spot as well by sitting at an impressive 29-25 record through their first 54 games of the season.
A key to this impressive start has been the efforts of their pitching rotation which boasts impressive young pitchers Jacob DeGrom and Matt Harvey. Now that the Mets have been able to maintain their consistent winning ways, they have started to explore the trade market for some upgrades. One position they are looking to fill is the shortstop position which has been a position they have been looking to upgrade for quite a while. The Mets have recently been rumored to have trade interest in Oakland Athletics utility man Ben Zobrist as reported by Mets beat writer Matt Ehalt of The Record.
Zobrist joins the list of the many names the Mets have been connected to for some time as they have been trying to find a replacement at short for what seems like an eternity. The Mets have been trotting out infielder Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada to man the shortstop position. Together they have combined for a mere .255/.290/.429 batting line on the season and 11 errors with ten of those errors being attributed to Flores.
The Bottom line is that if this team hopes to continue to remain in the hunt for a postseason berth, they will need to upgrade at the shortstop position.
That’s where Zobrist comes into play. The veteran utility man had spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays up until last offseason in which he was flipped to the Athletics. So far his career with the Athletics hasn’t gone as planned as he’s been able to play in just 22 games and is coming off the DL after nursing a knee injury.
His overall line on the year is just .234/.310/.403. Despite his struggles of late, Zobrist is an attractive trade candidate. The Athletics are not expected to contend this year for a postseason slot and have little to gain by holding onto Zobrist seeing as he is a free agent after the season is up anyway. The Athletics will most likely be unable to pay the contract he is seeking. It makes sense for them to deal him before the deadline now before they lose him in the offseason for mere draft pick compensation.
Prior to this year with the Athletics, the veteran had a .264/.354/.429 batting line over the span of his time with the Rays. He has also been a difficult batter to strike out and has always brought versatility to any lineup he’s been a part of due to his ability to play practically anywhere in the field though he has primarily played right field, second base and shortstop. Adding him to the Mets’ lineup sounds like an ideal proposal. He’d most likely see the bulk of his time at the shortstop position and hopefully bring another veteran presence into the locker room which is mostly full of youngsters as well. He will also make the Mets a more versatile team due to his ability to play multiple positions. Seeing as he’d only be a rental he would probably not command that steep of a price on the trade market and the Mets have a wealth of pitching both in the majors and minors to enable them to swing a deal for the veteran utility man. If the Mets are truly serious about going for the postseason this year, dealing for Zobrist is one of their best options to improve their odds.