Depending on how the season goes, the Oakland Athletics could look to trade Ben Zobrist before the July 31st deadline. If they do, a prime landing spot could be the New York Mets, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman reported that Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson has stated that he would be willing to overpay for anyone who can fix the Mets’ offensive woes.
Zobrist certainly fits that bill. In 49 games this season, he’s batting .266, but he has a .360 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage. That means the right-hander is walking in 13.2 percent of his at-bats, and hitting extra-base hits 10.7 percent of the time. He only has five home runs this year, but his fifteen doubles and a triple make him a very valuable asset.
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In addition to being skilled at the plate, Zobrist would be able to fill in at plenty of positions. The Mets lack a strong middle infield, and that is Zobrist’s specialty. His versatility would be much more valuable on a National League team.
There are plenty of reasons for the Mets to be interested, but what type of return could the A’s potentially get?
The Oakland Athletics should target Michael Conforto. Zobrist is one of the most coveted players in baseball because of both his ability to play so many positions, and his ability to get on base. The Mets have already stated that they would overpay, and while they will certainly hold on to top prospect Brandon Nimmo, they might be willing to part with Conforto.
Conforto was drafted in 2014, and he is ranked third within the Mets organization and 67th overall. The outfield prospect is just 22 years old, but he is flying through the Mets’ system. After being drafted in the first round in 2014, he had a very strong debut, batting .331/.403/.448 in 42 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones. So far this season, he’s split time between High-A and Double-A, averaging .300/.373/.485, with ten home runs.
Conforto is nearly major-league ready. The Mets have discussed calling him up to the majors, but they have ruled out the possibility for now. The A’s need to take advantage of that decision. Conforto is not a stellar athlete – scouting reports state that he isn’t very fast, so his defense can be spotty – but his bat is above average, especially in the outfield. He will make a great corner outfielder in the very near future.
The A’s need to prepare themselves for the departure of most of their outfielders next season. Key players like Sam Fuld and Josh Reddick only have one more season before they will be free agents, and the A’s will need outfield help.
The Mets can afford to part with Conforto because they have a better outfield prospect in Nimmo. Nimmo is expected to be a much better defender, although he has less power. Zobrist is capable of providing any temporary outfield help that the Mets may need. The difference is that Zobrist is able to provide offense immediately, whereas Conforto is not, and the Mets need help before they fall any further back in the division.
Swapping Zobrist for Conforto would make both teams’ winners of this deal.