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Zobrist decision likely this week, Nats in mix

Dec 7, 2015, 4:19 PM EST

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NASHVILLE — Ben Zobrist, among the most-popular free agents on the market this winter, is likely to make a decision this week, and the Nationals are among the final suitors for the versatile veteran.

Zobrist, who lives in Nashville, is scheduled to meet with Nationals officials in town for the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, a source familiar with the talks confirmed. He already met in the last week with the Mets and Giants, believed to be the two other finalists to sign him.

The Nationals have long been intrigued by Zobrist, whose ability to play multiple positions makes him attractive to a host of other clubs. They engaged in trade talks with the Rays last winter, but Tampa Bay dealt him and infielder Yunel Escobar to the Athletics for catcher John Jaso and two prospects. (Escobar then was flipped to the Nats for reliever Tyler Clippard.)

The Nationals made another attempt to acquire Zobrist over the summer but watched as the A’s sent him to Kansas City for a pair of prospects. Now he’s finally available as a free agent, though the price tag will be significant.

Zobrist, 34, is believed to be seeking a 4-year contract, a commitment the Mets reportedly are willing to make. It remains to be seen whether the Nationals will go that far for a player who will be 39 years old during the majority of the fourth season of a new contract.

There’s no denying Zobrist’s potential value to the Nationals, who would probably view him primarily as a second baseman but would also want him to back up Jayson Werth in left field and (on rare occasions) Bryce Harper in right field. A switch-hitter with a career .363 on-base percentage and .802 OPS in seven seasons as a big-league regular, Zobrist would give the Nationals a much-needed left-handed bat to complement Harper, not to mention another veteran clubhouse leader.

Money obviously will play a role in Zobrist’s decision, but if all three presumed finalists make 4-year offers, his ultimate choice may have more to do with where he feels most comfortable and believes he has the best chance to win. The Nationals obviously offer a good opportunity for success, but the Mets are defending NL champions while the Giants own three World Series rings in the last six years.

The Washington Post was first to report Zobrist’s scheduled meeting Tuesday with the Nationals.

  1. Section 222 - Dec 7, 2015 at 4:26 PM

    The drama over these trades and FA signings (O’Day, Chapman) is fun, but maybe it would be better if we just waited for the teams to announce them rather than breathlessly repeating the reports of Rosenthal, Heyman, et al.

    • therealjohnc - Dec 7, 2015 at 8:32 PM

      It’s a looooooong offseason. Let us have our fun 🙂

  2. letsallbaseball - Dec 7, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    I feel like no matter what the outcome is, I’m going to be at least a little disappointed.

  3. Doc - Dec 7, 2015 at 4:42 PM

    If the Nats do sign this guy, it’ll soon turn out to be a bust. Let him be a bust for the Metsies!

  4. donniebenth - Dec 7, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    Let’s hope to Jackie Robinson that the Rollins to DC rumors are just smoke and mirrors

  5. JayB - Dec 7, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    He is a ball player and a winner…..like what Werth was supposed to me……Werth was a bust so we still need a true team leader. Ben is that type of guy.

    • letsallbaseball - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:15 PM

      “Werth was a bust”

      OPS over 800 in 2013 and 2014. Walk off homer in the playoffs in 2012 while batting a very successful leadoff after an injury. Fluke injury in 2015 details season. Yeah, bust… get real.

      • letsallbaseball - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:19 PM

        and how is Rollins anymore of a winner than Werth? seems like they’ve both won the same amount of world series since Jayson left Philly.

      • natsred4dndc - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:25 PM

        Further: most offensive production (WRC+) in the NL in 2013 (yes, more than the MVP), 10th most in 2014.

      • JayB - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:46 PM

        for 126 Million you get no leadership…that is what he was paid to do…..This club went into free fall this past year and Werth led the way….

      • letsallbaseball - Dec 7, 2015 at 9:27 PM

        What’s it like on that island JayB?

    • natsred4dndc - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:22 PM

      Werth-bashing is so tired and so ignorant…
      There are some well-researched articles out there that demonstrate why JDub has been worth what they’ve paid him on a purely performance basis, but let’s review:
      The Nats have paid him a little over $80,000,000 and his production (fWAR) is 12.3 wins. Using the exact figures, that’s exactly $6,550,522.60 per win. And what is cost of 1.0 win on the market? It has averaged about $6.5 million over the past half dozen years or so. That’s called getting what you pay for. Find one person inside the organization that doesn’t think he’s been a clubhouse plus and his value is then MORE than they’ve paid him.
      Not a bust.
      Not at all.

    • veejh - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:27 PM

      Werth every penny. You’re dead wrong on this JayB.

    • sjm308 - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:29 PM

      Hi JayB

      Long time
      I stopped posting here because I found a site that doesn’t allow idiotic negativity like yours.
      I still read Mark because he is really good & I feel like my small $ amount helped
      You have long been the most negative fan I have ever read
      Do you really look at what you write?
      Werth was the most important signing in our franchise history but you go ahead and be a jerk/troll/idiot and my favorite
      Eeyore

      • rabbit433 - Dec 8, 2015 at 6:45 AM

        sjm308, go back to your other “site” where they don’t allow everyone’s opinion. Glad you found your island.

  6. annapmagistra - Dec 7, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    If he’s 34 now and has a 4-year contract, how will he be 39 for most of the fourth year? Even if he turns 35 tomorrow, he’ll be 35, 36, 37, and 38 in those years.

    • dryw4nats - Dec 7, 2015 at 9:03 PM

      Oh, you and your math! 🙂

  7. mwgchess - Dec 7, 2015 at 6:43 PM

    I would prefer a bigger Homerun threat to hit behind Harper. However, it is also important to have people on base when Harper bats. Would Zobrist be our leadoff man?

    • lesatcsc - Dec 7, 2015 at 8:14 PM

      I agree with you, but I don’t see getting one of those and Zobrist as being mutually exclusive. Zobrist may free up some other assets to package to get a beast to hit behind Bryce. I’m more concerned about another big bat than another starting pitcher.

      • veejh - Dec 7, 2015 at 8:25 PM

        There’s no “beast” on the market that fits into our needs.

      • mwgchess - Dec 7, 2015 at 10:22 PM

        That’s true, but what position would we get the strong hitter at? Probably another outfield position. Zobrist would be the left fielder so we would need a centerfielder. I think getting a top centerfielder is unlikely. Pollock might have been a good fit until the D-backs declared their desire to be a contender. Who else is out there for a reasonable price. I agree that our starting rotation should be fine. For 4th and 5th starters, Ross and Roark are at least not subpar.

    • Guapo - Dec 8, 2015 at 11:49 AM

      Ben Zobrist has a higher career OBP than Denard Span. So yeah, he’s our leadoff guy. Plus he averages 15 HRs a season.

      I wanted him last year, so did smart teams like the As and Royals.

      Lock this dude up, continue to shore up the bullpen and let’s get Spring Training started.

  8. veejh - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:25 PM

    We need to sign Zobrist so we can trade some middle infield for some bullpen.

    • veejh - Dec 7, 2015 at 7:51 PM

      The only player off limits is Turner. Escobar, Espi, Difo…tee em up.

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