The Mets lost a tough one last night, falling to the Giants and Madison Bumgarner when Conor Gillaspie blasted a three-run bomb off closer Jeurys Familia. Thus begins an interesting offseason for the organization, which continues to have plenty of major league talent but also faces many questions. The action won’t get underway in earnest for a few weeks, but ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin provides some important information on some significant players:
- Unsurprisingly, the Mets expect star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to opt out of the remaining two years of his deal after another outstanding season. Rubin says the team is expressing pessimism about a reunion, but does intend to try after smartly re-signing him last winter. The current thinking is that the Mets will offer something on the same order as Cespedes’s most recent deal, with some front-loaded cash, a relatively modest term of years, and an opt-out after the first season. Whether that’s enough remains to be seen, but may depend upon whether another team is willing to make a truly significant guarantee after watching Cespedes post another top-notch campaign.
- It is clear, Rubin suggests, that Cespedes truly enjoys playing in New York, so perhaps that’s the ace in the hole for Sandy Alderson and co. The Cuban star said last night that he “hope[s]” to return to New York, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets, though that’s approximately the same line he has repeated when asked about the subject over the course of the season. All told, it seems possible but hardly likely that the Mets will lay enough cash on the table to bring him back.
- The Mets intend to make Neil Walker a qualifying offer so long as he continues to progress following his back surgery. In fact, it’s possible that the organization will be interested in a multi-year pact with the second baseman, per the report. There could well be some opportunity for such an approach, given that Walker’s upcoming free agency figures to be impacted somewhat by the procedure. Though he has suggested that it’s actually a good thing — it ought to fix a long-standing problem — any uncertainty is problematic when guaranteed money is on the table. And entering the market with draft pick compensation would only increase the risk for Walker. That seems to leave some daylight for a new contract that would keep him in New York for a few years. Rubin notes, too, that Walker has remained involved even after his season ended, suggesting that he truly enjoyed being with the club.
- In some part, the presence of Jay Bruce suggests that the team isn’t fully convinced it can afford Cespedes, as the lefty slugger provides another corner outfield option through his $13MM option. Rubin says the team was already going to commit that cash before Bruce ended his rough second half on a high note. That does begin to tilt the Mets’ lineup to the left side, as both Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto already feature as southpaw-swinging outfield options. And as Rubin also notes, the late-season return of Lucas Duda makes it nearly certain that he’ll be tendered, plugging another lefty bat in at first base. Duda’s injury-limited campaign means he won’t be owed much of a raise on his $6.725MM salary in his final year of arbitration.