Perhaps there is a reward to be had for Sandy Alderson's patience after all.
Tampa Bay Rays
If Zobrist is available, it would behoove Alderson to make a phone call to Rays president Matt Silverman.
Though Zobrist isn’t Troy Tulowitzki, he would represent a major upgrade for the Mets at shortstop and has the ability to play multiple other spots on the diamond if needed.
The most important thing you should know about Zobrist is that he’s one of two position players to put up at least 4.5 Wins Above Replacement in each of the past six seasons. The other player? Miguel Cabrera.
What makes Zobrist so valuable is a combination of his durability, versatility and overall skill.
Zobrist’s statistical lines won’t overwhelm you. But having someone who does that and who plays every day (Zobrist has played at least 146 games in six straight seasons) is in and of itself quite valuable.
He’s hit .275 and .272 the past two seasons, with a .354 on-base percentage each season, and 12 and 10 home runs respectively. He espouses a careful approach at the plate, as he’s drawn at least 70 walks in each of the past six seasons.
Zobrist is also a good defender (he can play second base, shortstop and right field), with a total of 18 Defensive Runs Saved over the past three seasons, and a respectable baserunner, who averaged a dozen steals a year the past three seasons.
Zobrist struggled in his initial foray at shortstop, but has been fine when asked to fill in at that position. In the past three seasons, he’s played the equivalent of about half a season at shortstop, has three defensive runs saved, and has no issues turning double plays.
The downside on trying to trade for Zobrist is that he turns 34 in May, an age at which players typically are on the downside of their careers (that didn’t stop the Mets from getting Michael Cuddyer). And he’s only signed for one season, though it’s at a bargain of $7.5 million.
Such a deal would cost the Mets considerably, given they would probably be bidding against a lot of teams. But the Mets have something the Rays don’t at the moment -- farm system depth -- from which they could probably put together a nice package. We won’t speculate on what that could or should be, but given the current standing of the Mets' farm system, it’s something they should be able to use to their advantage.
Trying to sign or trade for what I’d call a two-win shortstop, like a Cabrera or Stephen Drew (who is reportedly asking for $9 million a year) never really made sense because the Mets feel they have that in Wilmer Flores. Tulowitzki doesn't make sense because the combination of what it would take to get him in trade and the remainder of his contract will be overwhelming.
But Zobrist is different. He’s a potential difference-maker. And the time to act on him is right now.