5:43pm: Zobrist is choosing between the Cubs and Mets, according to Rosenthal (Twitter link). The two have made comparable offers, says Rosenthal, so the decision comes down to which club he’d rather join. The Nationals are now on the periphery of talks, Rosenthal adds.
5:26pm: Heyman tweets that the Mets, Giants and Nationals are all willing to go to four years on Zobrist.
4:36pm: Rosenthal hears the same as Rogers — the Cubs are in on Zobrist, he tweets. However, Chicago would need other moves to come together before signing Zobrist. The Cubs, of course, have reportedly been discussing infielder Javier Baez with other teams. Starlin Castro’s name, too, has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors over the past several months.
3:39pm: Zobrist has at least one four-year offer in hand and could make his decision within the “next several hours,” Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.
ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers adds on Twitter that the Cubs are “not out” of the Zobrist sweepstakes but also don’t seem like the favorite to sign him.
3:34pm: Contrary to prior indications, the Nationals have not met in person with Zobrist and don’t have anything lined up to do so at present, according to reports from Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (via Twitter) and Mark Zuckerman of CSNmidatlantic.com (Twitter link). But they have met with his representatives and the team has made a “nice, hard push” to acquire Zobrist, per a tweet from the Post’s James Wagner.
Janes provides a full quote from Rizzo, on Twitter: “We have plans, not necessarily to meet him face-to-face, but we’ll keep those to ourselves.”
1:46pm: Zobrist is talking over his decision with his wife and a decision could come as soon as this evening, his agent tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
1:03pm: A source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that there’s “no way” Zobrist has received such an offer.
Meanwhile, a source with the Mets says that the team did not make such an offer and wouldn’t match it, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.
1:02pm: Free agent infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been as heavily pursued as expected, but his market is apparently reaching heights not previously anticipated. One unidentified team has made him a four-year, $80MM offer, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. He adds that the Mets remain the favorites to land Zobrist.
Needless to say, that’s an incredible figure to hear connected with Zobrist. Most prior estimates have pegged his anticipated value more in the $15MM annual range, give or take a few million. Despite his consistent excellence, Zobrist is no longer posting quite the numbers he did during his heyday and is entering his age-35 season.
One relevant comp that has previously been discussed is Victor Martinez, another older player who was coming off of a big season at the plate when he inked with the Tigers for four years and $68MM. While Martinez had obvious defensive limitations, whereas Zobrist can play just about everywhere, the latter is also not the offensive force that Martinez was. All said, then, there are some general similarities in their market outlook, and going all the way to eighty million would add an additional $3MM annually to what Martinez achieved.
The latest reports all suggest that Zobrist’s decision is coming soon, with the Nationals and Mets said to be leading the way. The Giants and possibly the Dodgers are also said to be in the mix, too. Of course, late-emerging mystery teams have driven up bidding on plenty of previous occasions, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com did tweet earlier today that some believe other clubs could still enter the fray.
Come on it better not be the mets. At the point sign one of the outfielders and resign Murphy
Probably the Dodgers. He already essentially said we were 4th on the list, and I struggle to see a reason he wouldn’t have already accepted a 4/80 deal if it were from one of his 3 favorites (Nats/Giants/Mets)
There is no need for Ben Zobrist to rush into a free agent deal this week. With so many teams showing interest in the versatile veteran his value will remain high throughout the offseason and may actually improve when some teams finalize decisions regarding players that might currently be hindering their attempts to acquire him.
The Cubs are one such team that would figure to be high on Zobrist’s wish list. Once they determine possible destinations for either Starlin Castro or Javier Baez, the opportunity for Zobrist to play 2B regularly (his offseason preference) may open up for him.
Zobrist would undoubtedly relish a chance to reunite with former manager Joe Maddon and finish his career with a serious World Series contender. The Eureka, Illinois native would also remain closer to his Franklin, Tennessee residence than some other locations, including N.Y or any out West.
The Cubs would benefit from having a switch-hitting, high OBP and low strike-out top of the order veteran presence in their young lineup. Maddon would love his versatility afield, even should the 2B position open up for Zobrist to play regularly. Maddon has never been bashfull about moving his players around in the course of a ball game with his micro-managing, especially now that he is in the National League. How many times did starting 3B Kris Bryant wound up in the outfield last season, or vice versa? LF Chris Coghlan often played 2 or 3 different positions during the course of a ball game, Ditto for Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Kyle Schwarber and even Addison Russell. Zobrist is more than capable of doing the same for the Cubs with his ability to play as many as 7 different field positions proficiently.
I see Zobrist as a great match for the Cubs…and the Cubs as an excellent destination for Zobrist. He has an opportunity to finish his fine MLB career with the manager he started with, one who was instrumental in recognizing and trusting his versatility in the batting order and afield, who helped Zobrist become the valuable and winning player he is today.
If you’re going to write a wall of text at least have the courtesy to write a TL;DR version.
This isn’t twitter, which I also post on. Intelligent and thoughtful baseball fans should be willing to read any comments that are thorough and make sense, sometimes necessitating a longer presentation.
Don’t read it if it’s too many words for you to comprehend. I thought it was an excellent post.
I’m a Cubs fan and disagree, there is not a good fit unless both Castro and Baez are gone. They’ve already stated Castro is going nowhere. I like Zobrist, but I would not be happy if the Cubs signed him. This would be a horrible deal for the Cubs.
Starlin Castro is hardly untouchable. Javier Baez has reportedly been the centerpiece of multiple trade scenarios since the beginning of the offseason and continues to be so as I write.
Ideally, Castro should be the focus of trade discussions and Baez ought to be kept. Dispatching Castro’s contract would free up more money for the Cubs this winter. Aside from being more cost effective, Baez is the better defensive player and far more versatile, having the ability to play AND profile as at 2B, SS, 3B and the OF. I still worry about Castro’s focus in the field and have more confidence in Baez’ ability, to say nothing of Ben Zobrist’s.
I’ve already discussed what Zobrist brings to the table for the Cubs. There is nobody on their current roster who could fit into the #2 spot of their batting order better than him. If the Cubs can’t find a traditional lead-off hitter this offseason, preferably their new CF, Zobrist would also have the ability to bat #1. Keep in mind that manager Joe Maddon bats the pitcher #8 and has Addison Russell batting in the 9-hole. Zobrist at #1 would essentially be a 2-hole hitter after the 1st inning anyway.
Btw-I have been a diehard Cubs and White Sox fan since the early 1960’s. I know baseball and am well versed on both Chicago teams.
Castro isn’t untouchable, he’s untradeable. And you realize what you’re asking is for Zobrist to wait for the Cubs to possibly come calling, but only after Baez and Castro are traded. That wait might cause other teams to look elsewhere, lowering his price. In theory that is fine, but unless the Cubs are willing to pay what other teams are willing to pay now, it would never work.
Make no mistake about it, the Cubs have the financial resources to sign Zobrist now if necessary and deal with any potential moves of Castro and Baez as the offseason progresses. The Cubs are seeking depth now and few players in the FA market qualify like Zobrist.
Castro is neither “untouchable” or “untradeable”. His contract is actually quite team friendly as a plus starting middle infielder who has generated the type of offensive numbers he has in 3 of his 5 MLB seasons. There is also little reason to believe that Castro can’t improve upon that production as he approaches his prime years.
Besides telling Castro he will NOT be traded this offseason
The Cubs in no way, shape or form would get rid of Castro this offseason.
great post.. agree maddon is a very unique manager with a lot of energy.. easily can see Zoberist wanting to have him as manager again.. Can he deal with the small shower space at Wrigely quoted by greg zaun and be in same division as bucs/cards? Choose nl east with only the nats to worry about..
don’t underestimate joe maddon’s influence.. cubs still could easily get him.
Good call, Shark!, You’ve been dreaming this up for weeks. Who else are you dreaming for?
I guess Zobrist won’t be that bad. Looks like they dumped Castro to the Yanks. Hope they keep Baez.
I feel bad for the mystery team always has the highest offers never lands the guy.
Yeah, like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Zack Greinke. (lol)
I’ve grown weary of all these sports columnists trying to be the first to break the story that they would just put it out in the ether right or wrong. It’s on the consumer too for craving such immediate info, but have a filter, writers.
Voice of Reason
This report reminds me of last week that Samardjia had a $100 million offer, yet “settled” for 10% less.
Jeff Samardzija may very well have had a $100M offer on the table in this current pitching market. Had he waited a little longer, perhaps after Johnny Cueto or Mike Leake signs, he might have had multiple such offers.
“Shark” wisely selected the Giants, a contending N.L. club that plays it’s home games in, perhaps, MLB’s most pitcher-friendly venue. The $10M less might have been sacrificed for better career numbers and a better chance to recoup the money with more postseason appearances. Just saying…
If he gets 20 million a year to be a above average utility player, then every mid market team is screwed.
No, he is getting the money to be an above average 2B, 3B, LF or RF, who can also play passable D at SS. You can choose whichever position you want that above average bat to play at that day.
Wow Steve Miller band just came on go on take the money and run when I clicked on article . Will heyward get 40 mil ? Zobrost only 20 mil less than trout . Crazy
Is ole Bobby historically this awful at the rumor mill???
yes, think of him and wittenmeyer as close relatives. They both spew random stuff out sparking all sorts of conflicting reports
I can’t imagine this kind of contract for Zobrist, particularly because of his age.
Can’t say I buy this report, but imagine a world where Zobrist receives $20 million per year over 4 years… Could we then stop acting as if the cost for pitching is the only thing that has exploded in baseball?
Zobrist is very good at baseball. That wouldn’t be a shocking turn of events at all. I might not go as high as $20M because of his age, but I would offer 3 years @ $54M ($18M per) or 4 years @ $64M ($16M per).
Your absolutely nuts then, good reason fans aren’t general managers or president of baseball operations the owners would all be broke and the teams would still be terrible….whoever thinks he is worth 20 million a year is smoking some bad stuff
I love Zobrist, but I think his value is best suited around $15 mil per year. Forget the age, his biggest asset is his versatility – but all reports suggest that he’s looking to play 2B primarily. So this isn’t as much about worrying that a 35-year old player might immediately see a decrease in his production – it’s also about the idea of paying a 2B $20 million per year…
Pitching? Have you already forgotten the 13 yrs/$325M “lifetime” contract extension the small market Miami Marlins gave to Giancarlo Stanton?
These conflicting reports are getting old.
there’s a lot of extremely reliable information coming down the pipe today
I feel like that’s the state of the hot stove this year. Everyone wants to get a report out first, so they don’t do any due diligence. Then again, that’s why they call them rumors.
Yeah, and the site we’re all posting on is called mlbtraderumors.com. (lol)
There’s absolutely no way this is the Mets
Hate to admit this, but I don’t get it. He is essentially Miami’s Don Kelly with another 150 OPS. That’s certainly worth a lot, but $11 MM a year more? Yikes!
Hes also worth about 38 more War in just 2 more years of playing time.
War is meaningless to me when it has Zobrist as the highest ranked player in the AL -twice at that! This isn’t imaginary baseball.
Imaginary baseball would be comparing Ben Zobrist and Don Kelly
Now make that $14MM to $18 MM a year more according to the rumors. To me that’s crazy.
Nightengale also reported last night that the Baez/Miller trade was done. His sources have been pretty bad.
What 80 millions wow they are giving money like nothing nowadays.
Jeez, give me a break. He’s a slightly-above-average utility player way past 30. Can’t believe all the ink his negotiations are getting.
Plus I just heard some guys on MLB Radio saying Zobrist is holding up the FA OF market. What the what?!?!
All of these outrageous free agent deals just underscore the importance of developing as much homegrown talent as you can. Scouting and player development are now more important than ever.
This guy is coming off of a world series win with the Royals and went along to give his daughter the middle name “Royal”. Kansas City not resigning him, to me, is a pretty clear sign that his price-tag is overwhelmingly through the roof. I wonder what the Mets players will think when his daughter – a symbolic reminder of their defeat is running around the clubhouse???
They will think “this guy helped beat us, I’m glad he’s on our team now.”
I can’t believe that a player like Zobrist is mentioned in the same sentence as “sweepstakes”. What the heck is baseball coming to? I really hope the Cubs would not be that dumb. They have a ton of talent already in the infield., I even like Castro better than Zobrist simply because he still has an upside. I thought he played terrific at 2B the last month of the season. I guess they would put Zobrist out in the OF, but they may as well teach Baez to play center if that is the case. The only position player that makes sense for the Cubs is Heyward. They need an upgrade defensively and someone with a little patience at the plate.
I’m completely mystified as to why this guy’s decision, which is down apparently to the Nats, Mets, and Giants, could have anything to do with the markets for guys like Heyward, Cespedes, Davis and Upton. I mean, only one of those teams could even conceivably be in on the big name guys, and that’s not very likely. What gives?
Please not the Mets….please not the Mets….
He has all the makings of Cuddyer v2.0….who turned into dead payroll weight the second the ink dried on the contract.
I’m holding out hope the Mets resign Murphy and go for Heyward/Cespedes. I know..out of position corner outfielders.
Haha, I am saying the same thing but please not the Cubs….please not the Cubs!!
Do you guys remember Mark Derosa? He was a very similar player to Zobrist with similar stats, if not better than Zobrist in a few years with the Cubs. Can you imagine Dero ever getting this kind of money? The market is all messed up right now.
I can’t tell if you’re a troll or completely uninformed, but DeRosa is not a similar quality hitter to Zobrist. DeRosa had a career OPS+ of 95, while Zobrist has a 117 career OPS+. That’s not similar at all.
Please don’t be the Giants offering four years. Outfield needs to get younger, not older.
All this yammering about the Mets remaining the favorite through all of this reeks of a situation where Zobrist will not end up on the Mets.
Cubs trying to dump Castro or Baez to sign this guy. Why? I don’t get it.
I don’t get it either, keep them and sign Heyward instead. Trade Baez if you must for pitching, but please do not sign Zobrist anywhere near the 20 mil/year. I’d take him on a huge discount, but the Cubs would be wise to spend elsewhere.
I don’t get it either. In 10 minutes tho..there will be a report that the cubs haven’t even spoken with zobrist or his agent in months..
He’s got to be taking a discount if the Cubs sign him. Assuming these are the options he’s weighing.
Take the money or go play for Joe again?
I think the Cubs are low balling Zobrist, but he’s intrigued anyway. He’ll probably end up taking the highest offer. He’s “only” made $30 million lifetime.
Zobrist has been good, but I don’t feel that he’ll be worth his contract in the long run.
I really want to see another year of Baez, Castro, and Soler on the Cubs in 2016.
Bye way it would surprise me that the mistily team that offered zobrist 4-80million is Braves . They know he want to win and will over pay to get him. Hoping extra money will entice him to come to Atlanta which would be closer to his home then la sf or Washington or New York . Like Washington did with Jason Werth few years ago
It wouldn’t surprise me if that mystery team was that offered zobrist 4 years 80 million was the Braves. Dam phone
As a Cubs fan… I hope we lose to the Mets again …
Totally agree. This is a bad deal for Cubs fans. For his asking price, you may as well go a little more for Heyward who is a much better fit for the Cubs.
4/60 vs. 10/200 isn’t really a little more…
I’m sending telepathic thoughts. “Zorilla, pick Mets.”
So we just suffered through all that losing for the Cubs to give up on two young players for the chance to sign a marginally more talented 35-year old to a big money deal? Seriously… this would be the worst move Epstein has made since joining the Cubs. There’s not even a close second.
Over the last 3 years, Zobrist has a .274/.356/.413/.769 slash and 116 OPS+. During the same time, Castro has a .265/.305/.383/.688 slash and 89 OPS+. Castro has never had an OPS+ above 115 in any season and only been above 102 twice in 6 seasons. That’s not marginally better. That’s significantly better.
I really hope its the Mets, and not my Cubs. We have plenty of solid infielders, all we need is somebody to play CF and I don’t think Zobrist fits the bill. If they don’t sign Heyward then I guess Baez will be playing in CF next season.
This is getting stupid. Sorry but the Cubs should not be in on this player. Have more than enough young CHEAP talent to cover the infield. If we are going to splurge, go after Heyward.
This really makes no sense for the Cubs. Use that money and put it towards a young stud outfielder in Heyward.
***Unless it’s at a steep, steep discount.
Heyward won’t be worth what he gets.
Blah blah blah
If Zobrist signs with the Cubs, Castro is traded, Double whammy. Cubs get twice as worse.
If Zobrist goes for 10M or more per year.
I’d rather see them sign high upside relievers with the same kind of money.
Mets took advantage of the nats collapsing. I can’t see the Mets winning anytime soon. They upset the cubs in the nlcs. Cubs are the better choice.
Signing Zobrist will mean that Baez is likely gone.
That means that they’re likely still in talks with the Braves or Rays for pitching.
Hate to see Baez leave though.
He has the most upside of any second baseman in the minors.
Still don’t understand why Theo and Jed would be stupid enough to give
a guy entering the wrong side of his 30s even a 2-4 year contract.
They have to be thinking that they can get a starter or a cf fro Baez or Castro or
this signing does not make any sense at all.
80% Cubs 20% Mets
And I hope im wrong
If it’s me, I’m picking Chicago simply for the ball park / city.
Theo Epstein quoted saying they are working on an interrelated trade/FA signing (MLB.com Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskrat)
…Zobrist and Castro to NYY?
Who would they want so badly from the Yankees to do that though?
Id imagine its less of who they want so badly…more so Yankees liking Castro and CHI looking to dump salary and free space for Zobrist to be every day 2b