Mets Aren’t Getting Ben Zobrist, Now What?

With every team seemingly interested in Ben Zobrist, it appears the almost 35 year old is going to get a four year deal. Good for him.

The good news is that the Mets have no interest in giving him a four year deal. It’s the prudent move especially when you consider he’s in the midst of a four year decline. Based upon Adam Rubin’s article, the Mets may now turn to either Daniel Murphy or Asdrubal Cabrera to play second and occasionally spell David Wright at third base. I’ve written enough about Murphy, but it’s the first time I’ve seen the Mets linked to Cabrera. 

For starters, Cabrera is not the hitter Zobrist or Murphy is. Last year, Cabrera hit .265/.315/.430 with 15 homeruns and 58 RBIs. For his career, he’s a .267/.329/.412 hitter, who averages 15 homeruns and 75 RBIs a year. He’s been good for an OPS+ of 104 meaning he’s a league average hitter. Overall, his career averages are skewed by his career year in 2011 when he hit .273/.332/.460 with 25 homeruns and 92 RBIs. This was also before his getting busted for steroids

As we’ve seen with the Mets, the steroids issue won’t preclude them from signing Cabrera. Assuming it’s behind him, his .265/.315/.430 batting line would be an upgrade over an internal option like Wilmer Flores and his .263/.295/.408 batting line with an OPS+ of 95. 

That’s where Cabrera becomes a little more interesting. Over the course of his career, he’s been a SS. However, he’s been a bad one. His UZR last year at short was -6.0, which was his best defensive year in five years. Over his career, he’s averaged a -6.2 UZR. Plain and simple, he’s a bad SS. In fact, he’s worse than Flores. At second and third, he’s had limited time, but he’s shown to be nothing more than average. 

Ultimately, the prudence of signing Cabrera comes down to the contract. On a one year deal, he makes a lot of sense. As a replacement for Murphy’s bat, the signing doesn’t make sense no matter how good the terms of the deal are. Given the state of the free agent market, I’m not sure it’s wise to go after Cabrera and a centerfielder. As suggested by Ken Davidoff, the Mets will turn to center if they can’t sign Zobrist. 

At this point, the best move might just be signing their young pitchers to extensions. The free agent market is poor, and the pitching is the Mets path to success. With that said, the Mets better kick them up.