Position: Shortstop, Second Base, Third Base
Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: Aug. 12, 1985 (32)
2017 Stats: .297/.385/.548, 438 AB, 24 HR, 63 RBI, 62 BB, 78 SO, .993 OPS
This offseason, the Mets will have to fill at least one of the second or third base holes. With David Wright a huge question mark to say the least, as well as T.J. Rivera undergoing Tommy John surgery, the Mets will presumably look outside the organization to fill this need.
One of these options might be to retain Asdrubal Cabrera on his $8.5 million option, which appears likely at the moment. However, they really should consider adding another established infielder into the mix too. The issue here is that the market does not offer much in terms of talent at either of those positions.
Mike Moustakas is the only sure thing and he will ultimately be out of the Mets price range as a result. They theoretically could sign Neil Walker, Ian Kinsler or Todd Frazier, but none of the three offer much in terms of upside.
The Mets need to think outside the box. The man they should be looking at is Zack Cozart. While he is neither a second baseman nor a third baseman, he does possess the bat that would appeal to that of Sandy Alderson.
So the next thing to figure out is where to play him. As a career shortstop, he could likely succeed at either second or third base as both positions require less range. However, second base probably would suit him better as it will allow him to use some of his range and possibly reduce the adjustment period to his new home on the diamond.
It also would allow the Mets to keep Asdrubal Cabrera at third base, where he looked very comfortable down the stretch. The negative here is that this idea does require Cozart to play out of position.
However, the upside here is too great to simply ignore. Not only is his bat probably one of the best on the market, but the possibility of having an infield constituted of three guys with the ability to play shortstop.
Cozart offers much more upside and is actually considered one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball. Per Fangraphs, Cozart had a strong UZR/150 of 6.2 this past season and had a Gold Glove-caliber 14.6 in 2016.
A middle infield of Cozart and Amed Rosario could potentially make the infield defense go from mediocre, to say the least, to very strong with just one acquisition.
Another plus to this idea is the amount of added flexibility in lineup construction on a day-to-day basis this will give to the next manager. Having three shortstops in the infield can allow for the manager to move people around regularly.
It also gives the team a backup plan if Amed Rosario goes through a sophomore slump this year. Part of the issue for the Atlanta Braves this season was that when Dansby Swanson struggled, they were forced to stick with him since they had no other legitimate options to take his spot.
The potential acquisition of Cozart could act as a security blanket as well as an upgrade at second base for next season. This could also allow for the Mets to let T.J. Rivera get his chance at second at some point this season when he returns as Cozart could just slide over to third.
The Mets could trade Asdrubal Cabrera at that point or move him into the super-utility role they had hoped Neil Walker would have in the future last Spring Training.
One of the biggest factors in this decision will ultimately be money. As it currently stands today, it is highly unlikely that the 32-year-old would attract the interest of anything higher than a four-year deal at around $60 million. Depending on the amount of interest in his services, the Mets could potentially sign him for even less.
In an offseason where the Mets have many holes to fill, the team needs to take a creative approach in their quest to make a competitive roster in 2018. The options are not looking strong on the open market at second and third and so if the Mets want the best value, Zack Cozart is an interesting consideration.