Mets' John Ricco on Ben Zobrist: 'It's pretty obvious we think he's a fit'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ben Zobrist, the top free-agent target of the New York Mets, could reach a decision on his next employer by the end of the winter meetings on Thursday, assistant GM John Ricco predicted Sunday.

Zobrist, who lives in the Nashville area, is scheduled to be at the winter meetings on Tuesday for a television appearance, although it is unclear if he will meet with the Mets again while stopping by. Zobrist was in Queens on Wednesday for a recruiting trip. Mets officials also showed him suburban living options in Westchester and Connecticut during that Big Apple visit.

Zobrist’s agents will meet with the Mets this week.

“We’ve had conversations with his guys, and we’ll definitely be meeting with them,” Ricco said.

As for the timetable for Zobrist’s decision, Ricco said: “Our feeling is it’s not going to be weeks. Could it get done by the end of these meetings? I think yes. But, again, that’s really in his hands, and I don’t want to speak for him. We think it might happen here.”

Ricco also made it clear that Daniel Murphy is not the No. 1 fallback option if Zobrist decides to go elsewhere.

“I’m not sure after Zobrist which direction we would go,” Ricco said. “We’ve met with Ben. It’s pretty obvious we think he’s a fit. After that, some of it may depend on timing and who is still available. Some of it may depend on discussions we have here on whether we can fill certain positions via trade, or easier via trade, or not.”

Ricco seemed to expect that Murphy will get a lucrative deal as a free agent elsewhere.

“We never said we’re completely out on Murph,” Ricco said. “The expectation was he’s going to have a lot of suitors. And I still think he will.”

Ricco acknowledged that the Mets at least have expressed interest in free-agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera as an option if Zobrist were to sign elsewhere.

“Infield-wise, we’ve looked at all of the free agents -- touched base -- because we never know how this is going to evolve,” Ricco said. “He’s one of the free agents. We’ve checked in on all of those guys.”