Ben Zobrist won’t be taking his talents to Howard Beach. In a punch to the gut for the Mets, the veteran utilityman Tuesday agreed to terms with the Cubs on a four-year deal worth $56 million, pending a physical. The rapid change in winds surprised Mets officials, who a day earlier were extremely optimistic they would sign the 34-year-old Zobrist to fill their hole at second base. But that was before it had become clear the Cubs were involved with Zobrist, who has a tight relationship with manager Joe Maddon from their time together in Tampa Bay. Chicago is also closer in proximity to Zobrist’s Nashville-area home than New York. A source indicated the Mets’ offer to Zobrist was “similar” to the Cubs. “I don’t think this was about money,” Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said. “It was about him finding a place that fit. I think he liked a lot about what we were, but he had some history with [Maddon] and in Chicago it’s a little closer to home for him.” Now the Mets have to regroup. Team officials arrived at these Winter Meetings with no defined Plan B behind Zobrist, whom they believed would be an upgrade over free-agent Daniel Murphy at second base. According to a source, the Mets haven’t ruled out circling back to Murphy, but only if they can get him on a one- or two-year deal, which isn’t likely to happen. The Mets expect Murphy to get four years on the open market. “We’ve been in contact with him and we’ll continue to stay in contact with him and we’ll see where that goes,” Ricco said. Other free-agent possibilities include Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera, but the Mets seem lukewarm on both. Ian Desmond is an option who can play shortstop, moving Wilmer Flores to second base, but the Mets aren’t thrilled with the drop-off the Nationals free agent had defensively last season.
Ben Zobrist rejects Mets: Will they double back to Daniel Murphy?
New York Post | Dec 9