The New York Yankees are not expected to pursue current Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes when he hits the free agent market after this season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports.
While Cespedes’ right-handed power bat would fill a major void in the Yankees’ lineup, signing the Cuban import comes with several logistical and financial hurdles. At this time, the Yankees still have several high salary contracts entering 2016 and no clear opening in the outfield for Cespedes. Also, if Cespedes has his way, he will find a way to remain in the orange and blue.
The slugger told ESPN through an interpreter that he’d like to remain a Met after 2015:
“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.”
Just because Cespedes would like to return does not mean it will happen. He will likely command a contract of at least six years and $150 million. Perhaps too rich for the Mets’ taste, the Yankees and their budget might possibly permit adding a big contract. However, the team currently has Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran under contract to play the outfield in 2016.
Additionally, the team has the oft-injured Mark Teixeira and soon-to-be 41-year-old Alex Rodriguez under contract next season. Considering their age and injury history, the DH slot will be needed to rotate a bevy of veterans.
Heyman noted that the Yankees are also wary of doing business with Roc Nation, the agency that represents Cespedes. The reason likely being that Roc Nation also represents former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who left the Yankees to sign with the Mariners prior to 2014.
Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues speculates the team could potentially trade Gardner to free-up room for another outfielder. With Gardner finishing the last two seasons in abysmal fashion, the Yankees may entertain the idea of moving him in favor of a superior player.
— Bronx Pinstripes (@BronxPinstripes) October 15, 2015
Aside from Cespedes, outfielders such as Justin Upton and Jason Heyward will hit the market. While Cespedes and Upton would provide right-handed power, Heyward, who is just 26-years-old, an elite defender and a dynamic hitter could land the most lucrative deal of all outfielders.
One major hurdle in Cespedes potentially re-signing with the Mets was taken care of. Due to a clause in the original contract he signed with the Oakland Athletics prior to 2012, the team Cespedes was playing for in the final year only had five days after the World Series to negotiate a deal. If an an agreement was not reached in that time, Cespedes would automatically be released and would not be permitted to sign with that team until May 15 of the following season.
The reason for that was to prevent a team for issuing a qualifying offer, which would cause the team that lured Cespedes away to forfeit a draft pick. But as originally reported by the New York Post, the Mets and Cespedes’ representatives reached an agreement to remove that clause from his contract, therefore giving the Mets and all other 29 teams the same opportunity to negotiate with him.
After being acquired just minutes before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, Cespedes entered a Mets lineup that was desperate for consistent offensive production. Seemingly overnight, the Mets became one of the top scoring teams in the Major Leagues with Cespedes at the forefront. In 57 games with the Mets, Cespedes hit.287 with 17 HR and 44 RBI.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 11, 2015
In 159 total games between the Mets and Tigers, Cespedes finished hitting.291 with 35 HR and 105 RBI.
Before Cespedes hits the market, he will try and help the Mets win their first World Series since 1986 after the team swept the Chicago Cubs to advance to the fall classic. Cespedes left game four with left shoulder soreness but told several reporters, including Marc Carig of Newsday that his shoulder should be fine in three days and he’ll be ready to go.
[Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]