Despite fans having the hope of a change of heart, the New York Mets have reportedly ruled out re-signing slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, sources tell CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
While the Mets’ camp remained adamant about not giving Cespedes a big money guarantee, there was hope of a reunion when veteran outfielder Michael Cuddyer retired, as the Inquisitr reported. With most or all of Cuddyer’s salary coming off the books, there was speculation that money freed up room to re-sign Cespedes.
However, the Mets signed Alejandro De Aza this week, and he will likely platoon in center field with Juan Lagares. That leaves Cespedes without a clear spot on the roster. Instead, Heyman writes that the Mets’ current plan is to find a right-handed hitting outfielder who is more of a “complement” to the team’s core of outfielders.
The Mets are still looking for a right-hitting outfielder, but it won’t be Cespedes, according to sources familiar with their thinking. They seek someone to complement the three lefty bats that will man left field, right field and first base (Michael Conforto, Curtis Grandersonand Lucas Duda), and it is believed they are looking at Steve Pearce and others in that category.
Cespedes, 30, was a superstar in 2015 as he split time between the Mets and Detroit Tigers. Cespedes’ contributions in Flushing, Queens, led the charge to the Mets’ first postseason appearance since 2006 and first World Series appearance since 2000.
In 57 regular season games after being acquired at the trade deadline, Cespedes hit.287 with 17 HR and 44 with the Mets. Combined, the Cuban slugger finished 2015 a.291 hitter with 35 HR and 105 RBI — all career highs.
For his career, Cespedes is a.271 hitter with 106 HR and 367 RBI during his four-year career. He’s played for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Tigers, and Mets.
Not long after the trade to New York, Cespedes told ESPN through an interpreter that he’d love to stay with the team past the 2015 campaign.
“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.”
Heyman adds that the Mets “suggested a short-term deal of perhaps ‘two or three’ years for the star outfielder” this offseason. But those talks didn’t progress far enough to discuss money. While Cespedes may have enjoyed his time in New York, he’s expected to land a contract of at least six years.
Cespedes acknowledged that during 2015, telling ESPN Deportes’ Marly Rivera that he is looking for a six-year deal.
“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.”
There has been little traction in regards to a market for Cespedes, but Heyman lists the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, Tigers, and Chicago White Sox as possible suitors. All four teams have openings in their outfield, but the issue would be whether those teams are willing to give Cespedes the salary he desires.
As for the Mets, the team will enter 2016 with a different lineup. In addition to Cespedes’ departure, longtime Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy signed a three-year deal with the division rival Washington Nationals yesterday.
A few weeks ago, the team traded Jon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates for second baseman Neil Walker. Shortly afterwards, the team inked Asdrubal Cabrera to fortify the team’s infield. Those moves ultimately ended Murphy’s stint with the club.
The Mets have been thrifty spenders this offseason and project to have a payroll of $106.5 million in 2016 — which includes the estimated salary of the backup outfielder, per Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Aside from outfield depth and potentially signing a setup man, the team is not expected to see a drastic increase in payroll.
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