With the Mets’ offense floundering while key hitters David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud are on the disabled list, the team has spoken to the Athletics about a potential Ben Zobrist trade, reports John Harper of the New York Daily News. Citing sources “on both sides,” Harper says that while there have been talks, there’s nothing to indicate that the talks are particularly advanced.
The Mets have dropped seven consecutive games and fallen under the .500 mark — a swift fall from the high that came along with an 11-game winning streak back in April. Still, as Harper notes, the team’s rotation is too good to remain idle and hope for improved performance and/or better health. Harper spoke to Alderson about the need to make a move, with the GM telling him, “It would be nice to do something if we could to improve this team and give it a psychological boost.” According to Harper, Alderson made it clear that he understands the urgency to make some kind of move to help the team.
Zobrist is the type of player in which the Mets are reportedly interested. Previous indications have been that the club is eyeing someone versatile — potentially someone that could play at third base while Wright is on the shelf and slide to another position when he returns to the club. (The Mets are hoping to have Wright back around the All-Star break.) Zobrist is highly versatile, having logged significant playing time in the Majors at second base, shortstop, left field and right field. Zobrist also has more brief exposure to third base, center field and first base. While he wouldn’t be an ideal candidate to step in at the hot corner for Wright, the team could use Murphy at third with Zobrist at second until Wright returns, then potentially use Zobrist at either shortstop or in a corner outfield slot.
Of course, all of that is relatively aggressive speculation, given the seemingly preliminary nature of the discussions between the two teams. In fact, previous reports have indicated that while the Mets do covet Zobrist, they also feel they’ll be outbid for his services. As Harper notes, it doesn’t help the Mets’ cause that one of their more marketable trade chips, right-hander Rafael Montero, has been sidelined for two months with a shoulder injury.
Zobrist underwent knee surgery earlier this year and struggled upon his return, but he’s hitting a solid .250/.335/.451 with five homers on the season after heating up recently. Defensive metrics are quite down on his work this year, though it’s fair to wonder how much that’s tied to the knee surgery, as he’s long graded out as a plus defensive player all around the diamond. If the knee is the reason for the defensive struggles, then it stands to reason that his glovework should improve along with his bat as he works his way back to full strength. Zobrist is owed $4.18MM through the end of the season, at which point he’s eligible for free agency.
Certainly, a Zobrist trade — with the Mets or any other team — isn’t likely to transpire in the near future. The A’s are still said to be pushing to get back into the race, and they’ve played better as of late, winning eight of their past 10 contests and 13 of 21 in June. Beyond that, we’re in the early stages of what looks to be a market skewed decisively in favor of sellers, so any significant trade made at this juncture would likely be very costly for the acquiring team.