Adam Rubin noted Tuesday that the New York Mets didn't have a Plan B in mind in the event Ben Zobrist agreed to a deal with another team -- though we imagine they’ve spent the last several hours formulating one after Zobrist agreed to terms with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
So have we. It looks something like this:
Live with Dilson Herrera at second base
Maybe you read Dan Szymborski’s ESPN Insider take, which noted that the difference between projections for Herrera and Zobrist isn’t that great in the short term and is highly favorable to Herrera in the long term.
Herrera might not mash like Daniel Murphy, but he’ll almost surely be a better defender. Scouts were high on Herrera when the Mets traded for him. Early on, it’s worth seeing what he can do.
Span would probably have been in for a good-sized payday were it not a combination of injuries (sports hernia, hip labrum) he suffered over the past year. If Span is healthy (and that's an important thing to be sure of), he’d be a great fit.
He has a .293/.353/.407 slash line against right-handed pitching, steals bases at a 79 percent success rate (and he was 11-for-11 in 2015) and has a history of playing very good defense (except for last season when he was at minus-10 Defensive Runs Saved). He’s been worth at least 2.0 Wins Above Replacement in six of his eight seasons and averaged 3 WAR per season the past four years. He’s not quite Zobrist, but he's pretty good (and nearly three years younger).
Fortify the bench with familiar faces
It makes sense to have an insurance policy available in case Herrera flops. Why couldn’t Kelly Johnson fit that bill? Even at age 33, Johnson rated as a league-average to slightly above-average player this year. He’s an ideal fit for a bat off the bench and in a backup role. Johnson also brings a buzzword the Mets like: multi-positional flexibility.
So does Juan Uribe, who could team up with Johnson to mentor Herrera. Uribe is also insurance in the event that David Wright's back issues are a problem. It might even make sense to make Uribe a late-game defensive replacement for Wright (though we can't see that happening), as Uribe has a much stronger arm and was 10 Defensive Runs Saved better than Wright in 2015 (plus-2 to minus-8).
Sign Tony Sipp
We’ve previously advocated for the Mets getting Sipp, so we won’t go into it in great detail here, other than to say they need a lefty who misses bats and who can get both lefties and righties out. Sipp is the best of those out there. Jerry Blevins represents a decent (and likely cheaper) alternative.
Those moves would give the Mets a 14-man Opening Day position-player group of: Travis d'Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki, Lucas Duda, Herrera, Wilmer Flores, Wright, Johnson, Uribe, Ruben Tejada, Michael Conforto, Lagares, Span, Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson, with Brandon Nimmo as the best prospect likely to earn a recall.
The pitching staff would feature: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jonathon Niese, Steven Matz, Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Sipp, Sean Gilmartin, Hansel Robles and Carlos Torres, with Zack Wheeler and maybe Jenrry Mejia and Rafael Montero as the most prominent midseason additions.