Asked about the Washington Nationals' interest in free agent utility man Ben Zobrist on Monday afternoon, when he spoke to reporters on the first day of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee's Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters he wasn't surprised multiple teams were reportedly in the running for the 34-year-old's services.
"Zobrist is a good fit for about 30 teams in the big leagues," Rizzo joked.
"He's, first of all, a really good player. He's good on both sides of the ball, can really do everything on the baseball field. He's a good baserunner, he can hit for a little power, he's a good defensive player at several positions.
"So we have interest in him. He fits for us at several positions, but second base is a position that I think he likes best and he fits best for us best at second base.
"But with that said, this guy can play all over the field and is a guy that has great versatility."
Reports on Monday said Zobrist's decision was down to three or four teams, with a decision expected soon and the asking price believed to be at around four years and $60M.
Ben Zobrist decision expected in next 48 hours, according to one person involved in process. @FOXSports— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 8, 2015
Early this morning, New York Post writer Joel Sherman was reporting that the New York Mets were currently offering Zobrist a three-year deal:
#Mets still on 3-yr offer for Zobrist. If signals they’re team, NYM will then negotiate 4th yr, finalize pact.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 8, 2015
In a follow-up article on the current state of the pursuit, Sherman wrote this afternoon that the Mets, "... were holding on a three-year offer as of Tuesday morning, waiting for Zobrist to meet with the Nationals, waiting -- they hoped, for him to come to them and say the Mets were his choice."
Will the Nationals and Mets get into a bidding war for Zobrist? Will another team, perhaps a "mystery team", become involved now that he's reportedly getting close to making a decision?
The Nats were reportedly scheduled to meet with Zobrist today in Nashville.
Zobrist is coming off a .276/.359/.450 campaign spent with the Oakland A's and World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, which saw him hit 36 doubles and 13 HRs over 126 games and 535 plate appearances and finish the year at 2.1 fWAR.
Rizzo was also asked about some other rumors and roster considerations going into the 2016 campaign.
Recent reports have suggested that the Nationals could consider selling high on 33-year-old infielder Yunel Escobar, who put up a .314/.375/.415 line with 25 doubles and nine home runs in 139 games and 535 plate appearances in a 2.1 fWAR campaign.
Has there been any interest in Escobar?
"There's been several teams that have inquired about Escobar," Rizzo said.
"He's a versatile player that's a good hitter and a really good big league player. There's been several teams that have interest in him."
There have also been reports that the Nationals have expressed interest in another infielder this winter:
Zobrist is primary INF target on the Nats' radar,but have also looked at Jimmy Rollins as stopgap SS/leadoff man before Trea Turner arrival.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 7, 2015
Rizzo was asked about the rumors of interest in Jimmy Rollins on the Nationals' part?
"He's a switch-hitter," Rizzo said. "He's a good defensive player and he's been through the playoff wars before and he's a good presence."
The veteran shortstop, 37, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, putting up a .224/.285/.358 line, 24 doubles and 13 HRs over 144 games and 563 PAs in a 0.2 fWAR campaign.
So who will start at short for the Nationals on Opening Day in 2016? Will it be Yunel Escobar if he isn't dealt? Will it be Trea Turner if he doesn't start the season in the minors? Will Danny Espinosa start at short?
"I have a comfort level that if today were Opening Day, we have our shortstop on the roster and feel good about it," Rizzo said.
Who will that be?
"There are several of them. Several opportunities and that's why we have spring training and we'll figure out where each player fits. But we are strong and deep up the middle and that's a good place to be."