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.