Like everyone else, I’ve gone on and on about Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy, and the whole second base situation. Now, Zobrist seems to be close to making a decision, and many have speculated he may just become a Met. Honestly, why would he do that?
First and foremost, the obvious reason is the Mets may be offering the most money, which frankly, is a rarity in these situations. Other than that, I can only think of five other reasons Zobrist would want to be a Met:
Sure, the Mets are an NL East team closer to Zobrist’s Tennessee home than an NL West team, and they intend to put him at second where he prefers. The Mets did win the pennant establishing they are ready to win now. There are other nice pieces on the team, but they carry question marks: Curtis Granderson (age), David Wright (back), Travis d’Arnaud (injury history), and Juan Lagares (right handed pitching).
Zobrist would be joining a team losing its #3 and #4 hitters and replacing them both with just him. The Mets also have a bottom third payroll with apparently not much room to increase it despite the additional playoff revenue. Sure, every team has problems, but the other two teams interested in Zobrist will go out and spend. The other options may be more attractive than the Mets.
Keep in mind, the Nationals remain a dangerous team. They still have Max Scherzer (who no-hit the Mets) and Stephen Strasburg headlining the rotation. Bryce Harper took his game to the next level and won the MVP award. Anthony Rendon is a very good young player, who may very well be a Top 5 Third Baseman. There are exciting young players like Michael Taylor and Trea Turner.
The Nationals also had the third highest payroll in the sport last year (no one was going higher than the Dodgers and Yankees). They already addressed their biggest problem from last year by firing Matt Williams and hiring Dusty Baker. Dusty has his flaws, but he always seems to get the most out of his players. Lastly, the Nationals have already stated they want Zobrist to play second base.
Overall, the Nationals are still poised to win a lot of games next year, have a lot of terrific pieces, and have the ability to spend the money necessary to be a contender to win the World Series.
San Fransicso Giants
Speaking of contenders to win the World Series, next year is an even numbered year, which means the Giants are due to win the World Series. The Giants were the other team that no-hit the Mets this year.
Overall, there is a lot to like with the Giants. Madison Bumgarner is the best money pitcher in the sport. Buster Posey might just be the best position player in the NL (if it’s not Harper). Bruce Bochy is the best manager in all of baseball as well. There’s also the matter of the Giants hitting coach, who has been doing wonders with some of their younger players.
Gold Glover Brandon Crawford has increasingly hit for more power. Joe Panik has become an underestimated high OBP second baseman (sound familiar?). Matt Duffy showed increased power while finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Seriously, so what if the Giants want Zobrist to play LF? This is a team built to contend for the long and short team. They also have the sixth highest payroll in baseball. This team has an eye for young talent and is willing to spend to either keep their players or bring in new ones to fill their holes. The Giants have truly created a wonderful organization.
If you’re being honest with yourself, and the money is even, why would you pick the Mets? They don’t have the wherewithal to spend the other teams do. The other teams have been addressing needs this offseason, while the Mets have yet to bring someone in to improve their team. It’s still debatable if the Mets have enough money to make another significant move if Zobrist becomes a Met.
If it was me, I’d always pick the Mets because I’m a die hard fan. However, if we’re looking at these teams on paper, I’m not sure the Mets are the most attractive option for any free agent. You have to know that going to the Mets may mean you’re going to be the only major league signing. That’s been pretty much true of ever offseason for the Sandy Alderson regime.
Given the fact that Zobrist wants to win, play second, and stay closer to home, why shouldn’t he pick the Nationals? They have pitching and an arguably better lineup then the Mets. They also have the ability to spend more money than the Mets.
While I would always choose to be a Met, if I’m being honest, a sure with no such loyalty could/should choose differently.