After an injury-riddled and disappointing conclusion to the 2015 season, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is not expected to re-sign with the Mets this offseason, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
Cespedes, 30, was acquired by the Mets prior to the trade deadline this season, fortifying a struggling Mets offense. In 57 games after the trade, the Cuban slugger hit.287 with 17 HR and 44 RBI, helping lead the Mets to their first World Series appearance in 15 years. But as he’s set to hit the open market, a reunion with the Mets appears unlikely.
For starters, there are some injury concerns as it pertains to Cespedes. While his overall numbers after the trade were robust, a shoulder injury hampered his production from late-September through the end of the postseason. After September 15, the right-handed slugger’s batting average hovered around.220, with just two HR.
Prior to that, Cespedes was tearing the cover off the ball.
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) September 15, 2015
“I’m not thinking about a contract, but I do know that I will be looking for a contract that is six years or more, has to be six years or more. We’ll see what happens.”
The Mets’ history of signing free agents to long term, high salary contracts dictates that Cespedes’ next visit to Citi Field will be as a visiting player. However, Rubin’s report does mention that the Mets are still expected to “modestly pursue” Cespedes this offseason — and there have been signs of the Mets being willing to at least consider re-signing Cespedes.
Per the New York Post, the Mets and Cespedes’ representatives agreed to restructure his contract, removing a clause that gave the Mets just five days after the World Series to discuss a new contract. If a new deal was not reached in that time, Cespedes would not be eligible to re-sign with the Mets until May 15 of next season, thus ending his stint.
This clause was inserted into the original four-year, $36 million contract Cespedes signed with the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2012 season. The reason for it was so that a team cannot extend a qualifying offer in the offseason, potentially hurting his value on the market.
There have also been direct statements from Cespedes. He told ESPN through an interpreter in early-July he would like to remain with the Mets for a long time.
“This is something I can’t control. I don’t know what the front office is thinking about. But with what I see so far, I would love for everything to work out and stay as a Met for a long, long time, because I like the atmosphere.”
However, the way the Mets roster is currently constructed, Cespedes does not even have a clear spot in the outfield to slot into.
There is a logjam in the outfield right now with Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, and Michael Cuddyer all under contract for 2016. By adding Cespedes into the fold, the Mets would have five outfielder’s for three spots.
Granderson and Conforto are all but guaranteed to begin 2016 as the team’s corner outfielders. That leaves Lagares to play center field full-time and Cuddyer to serve as a bench option who can play either corner outfielder spot or spell Lucas Duda at first base against left-handed pitchers. Therefore, the Mets would either have to trade one of their outfielders or get creative with a surplus of options in the outfield.
So, if this is the end of Cespedes’ tenure, he will leave behind a tremendous run into the postseason but the last image of him in a Mets uniform will be him fouling a ball off his knee, limping off the field, and into a different team’s uniform.
[Images by (Elsa, Al Bello)/Getty Images]