The New York Mets are rumored to be moving closer to what once seemed impossible — bringing back Yoenis Cespedes for another season in Queens.
Cespedes was the kick-start the Mets needed at last year’s trade deadline, injecting power into the lineup and pushing a team that was one of the worst offenses in the first half of the year to one of the best by the end. But Mets management never saw Cespedes as anything but a mercenary, coming on for the team’s late-season run and likely leaving in the offseason.
The reports were that Cespedes wanted a six-year contract for as much as $22 million per year, but he’s entered the offseason to a much softer market than expected. He’s captured the interest of a few teams, but one by one the suitors have bowed out. The Baltimore Orioles had reportedly extended an offer, but then re-signed Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161 million contract. The Detroit Tigers were rumored to be in the running as well, but then signed Justin Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million deal.
With competition peeling off, there are rumors that the New York Mets are growing more interested in moving on Yoenis Cespedes. The team’s general manager, Sandy Alderson, confirmed as much at a season-ticket holder meeting on Tuesday.
“We continue to have conversations with Cespedes’ agent,” he said. “That’s all I can say at this time.”
Sources say the Mets are interested in Cespedes, but only on a contract of three years or fewer. There is growing sentiment that they will do it.
Ken Rosenthal, who covers the Mets for Fox Sports, wrote that the softening market for Yoenis Cespedes has left the Mets with no choice but to re-sign him. Rosenthal suggested the team sign him to a five-year, $120 million contract with a two-year opt-out and “a ton of deferred money.”
As he wrote, that would give Cespedes the long-term contract he wants while also giving the Mets a deal that would save money in the short-term. The opt out would also help Cespedes stay motivated, as recent reports indicated that the team wasn’t entirely convinced of his motivation.
wait wait wait wait — hold the phone YOENIS CESPEDES “CONSTANTLY SMOKES CIGARETTES BETWEEN INNINGS?!” PAY THE MAN pic.twitter.com/ZGHR68R7XQ
— August Fagerstrom (@AugustFG_) January 20, 2016
Even with the market for Cespedes coming down, it could still be too much for the Mets, Newsday reported.
“Yoenis Cespedes remains on the free-agent board, and as the calendar steams toward spring training, it’s possible that his chances of landing the six-year deal he desires could be diminishing. But a reunion with the cost-conscious Mets still looks unlikely, according to sources, partly because enough of a market exists for Cespedes to keep his price tag out of reach.
“The Tigers’ agreement with Justin Upton on a six-year, $132.75-million deal removed another potential suitor for Cespedes, which theoretically helps the Mets’ chances. But according to industry sources, the White Sox, Angels, Astros and the NL East rival Nationals are still viewed as possible landing spots.”
But within hours, this report may have been out of date as well. Angels beat writer Alden Gonzalez said the team is out of the running for Cespedes.
In case you’re wondering, hearing nothing has changed with the Angels: Still want to stay under the tax, still not going after Cespedes.
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) January 19, 2016
— theScore (@theScore) January 19, 2016
But just because Yoenis Cespedes has not received the six-year contract that he’s reportedly seeking, it doesn’t mean the market is entirely gone. Many insiders said the same thing about Justin Upton’s market, and when he finally signed this week the deal did not appear to be diminished at all.
So if rumors about the New York Mets signing Yoenis Cespedes turn out to be true, they’re still going to have to open the wallet up big for him.
[Picture by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]