Ben Zobrist‘s projected price tag “keeps going up,” tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who hears from clubs involved in his market that the demand for his services has the price sitting at four years and $60MM currently. That price could still rise, says Passan. That he says the current price tag is about $60MM over four years would indicate that no club has approached that level just yet, although given the sheer number volume of teams that Zobrist could help, it’s easy to see how competition could push his eventual contract beyond that level.
The 34-year-old Zobrist has been one of the most in-demand free agents on this year’s market, with early reports connecting him to the Mets, Nationals, Braves, Cubs, Giants, Cardinals and Royals, among others. Zobrist’s preference is reportedly to play second base, although I’d wager that if the clear highest bidder is interested in him primarily as a corner outfielder, that won’t stand in the way of his signing. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Mets consider Zobrist their No. 1 priority, and that same report indicated that the Royals probably won’t meet his ultimate asking price. ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin added this week that while the Mets may consider Zobrist their top priority, a four-year commitment from them isn’t likely.
Zobrist is coming off a strong season at the plate that was split between the Athletics and Royals. The switch-hitter batted .276/.359/.450 despite all of his home games coming in pitcher-friendly environments. Defensive metrics were uncharacteristically harsh on Zobrist this season, though some of that could potentially stem from diminished range due to knee surgery in late April. Zobrist spent only about a month on the shelf due to that operation, and while it was minor in nature, it’s certainly conceivable that Zobrist’s lateral movements were slowed to some extent following the procedure.