The Mets have some level of interest in Dexter Fowler as a center field option, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter). However, Ben Zobrist remains the team’s top priority in free agency. Recent reports have indicated that the Mets won’t go to four years on Zobrist, and that will probably need to change in order to sign him, as Yahoo’s Jeff Passan said last night the price tag is currently believed to be around $60MM over four years. Should the Mets lose out on Zobrist, they could look to upgrade in center field, where Juan Lagares had a down season in 2015 — the first of a four-year contract extension. Lagares’ contract is affordable enough that he could be moved to a reserve role without it being an overpay.
A few more notes from around the free-agent market…
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick delivers a slew of news pertaining to Zobrist (Twitter links 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Per Crasnick, the Nationals, Giants and Dodgers are all in the mix for Zobrist as well. The Cubs and Cardinals like Zobrist but don’t have as many at-bats to offer as the other clubs. The Royals are probably priced out on Zobrist, and while the Angels inquired earlier this offseason, there’s been no recent discussion between the two sides. Additionally, Zobrist’s preference is to play for a contender, making the Braves a tough fit even though they do have some level of interest. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press hears (Twitter link) that about 11 clubs are in the mix for Zobrist, to some extent, but the Twins aren’t among them (which is no surprise given their glut of outfielders and Brian Dozier’s presence at second base).
- Crasnick hears the same that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has recently suggested — that having fallen short on David Price, the Cardinals could turn their attention to Mike Leake on the free agent market. Leake won’t cost near the same amount that the Cardinals were willing to go on Price, but he’d be a strong option to replace the injured Lance Lynn in their rotation in 2016 and would provide value for another four years or so beyond that point.
- Also from Crasnick, both the Indians and Orioles have expressed interest in free-agent outfielder Will Venable. While the 32-year-old Venable is coming off a down season split between San Diego and Texas, he has historically been a productive bat for the Friars and has posted solid numbers away from the spacious Petco Park over the life of his career. Venable is also capable of playing all three outfield positions.
- A pair of notes on relievers: Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald hears that the Red Sox are no longer in the market for right-hander Joakim Soria (Twitter link). Having spent an enormous amount in terms of dollars and prospects to acquire Price and Craig Kimbrel, it’s perhaps logical that the Sox wouldn’t spend so heavily. Additionally, Crasnick spoke to an agent who said that the Blue Jays are looking for an impact (Twitter link), power arm for their bullpen but are trying to land such a piece for “dollar store prices,” suggesting that the team isn’t keen on shelling out a significant multi-year deal.