The Giants like Ben Zobrist because he's good at baseball, but more specifically, they like the idea that he could play second when Joe Panik is resting, third when Matt Duffy rests, and even short on Brandon Crawford's day off. It makes him a nice fit for a team looking for interchangeable parts and flexibility.
But the sense the Giants have gotten is that Zobrist, the game’s best utility man, would prefer to play second base going forward. That would make the Mets and Nationals likelier destinations and eliminate the Giants, who fully expect Joe Panik to return from a season-ending back injury.
It's a drag because Zobrist fits the team so well. The news isn't dire, though, considering the Giants could still pursue Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, or Jason Heyward. Or Marlon Byrd. Really, there are a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, even if Zobrist goes in a different direction.
And, really, if Zobrist would prefer to play second, where he is constantly in danger from man-apes like Matt Holliday, maybe he's not smart enough to play for the Giants, did you ever think of that? Huh? That's probably not true, but it's food for thought.
While the Maeda/Zobrist combo was a secret dream of mine, I'm starting to warm to the idea that the Giants should melt the budget for Jason Heyward and explore trade options for younger, cheaper pitchers if they're not sold on Chris Heston performing well for a full season. Losing Zobrist wouldn't be the end of the offseason, but rather a new beginning!
He fits so well, though. It's a touch sad. Tell yourself that the Giants won't be committing four years to a 35-year-old player, though, and you'll start feeling a little better.