The Mets are hoping to have some clarity on Yoenis Cespedes’ intentions by the end of the Winter Meetings next month, general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters at the GM Meetings today (via ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin). “I think realistically, from our standpoint this year, things will probably have to resolve themselves a lot sooner than they did last year,” said Alderson in reference to Cespedes, who didn’t re-sign with the Mets last winter until Jan. 26. “…[C]ertainly, from our standpoint, between now and the winter meetings, and through the end of the winter meetings, would be the right time to get some of these issues resolved.” Alderson added that he’s already met with Cespedes’ representatives once, though no contract offers or financial figures were exchanged. He’ll meet with Cespedes’ agent again at the GM Meetings this week, and notably, he also stated that he doesn’t have a cap on the number of guaranteed years he’d be willing to offer Cespedes.
More from the Mets’ GM and more on the team…
- One bat the Mets could turn to if Cespedes departs is apparently Jose Bautista. James Wagner of the New York Times tweets that the Mets have some degree of interest in Bautista and have already reached out to his representatives to set up a time to talk this week. That’s not the first time they’ve been connected to Bautista, either, as Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi listed the Mets as a possible landing spot for Bautista last week. While it’d certainly be a surprise to see Bautista, who is defensively challenged in right field at this stage of his career, land with an NL club, his bat would indeed balance out the lineup in the event of a Cespedes departure. Alderson mentioned (as noted in Rubin’s piece above) that the team would need to balance out the batting order should Cespedes leave, as the team is already too left-handed even with Cespedes in the fold.
- Interest in Bautista would seem counter-intuitive with a trio of corner outfielders already on board in Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, and while it’s fair to speculate that one of them could be moved to first base (Bautista and Bruce are the worst outfield defenders of the bunch by a wide margin), that doesn’t seem likely. Alderson said today that first baseman Lucas Duda will be tendered a contract, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, which seemingly eliminates the possibility of shifting one of those players around. Of course, it should also be stressed that at this juncture of the offseason, the interest in Bautista is likely preliminary and one of a couple dozen avenues which the Mets could theoretically pursue.
- Also via Sherman (Twitter links), Alderson said that the team was planning to target late-inning relief help even before domestic violence allegations were brought forth against closer Jeurys Familia, so it stands to reason that they’ll certainly be in that market now that a possible suspension could be given to Familia. However, he also added that the Mets were never inclined to play at the top of the market, so it doesn’t seem likely that names like Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman will be on New York’s radar.
- Sticking with Sherman, the New York Post scribe also tweets that Alderson repeatedly talked about the team’s current rotation depth, prompting Sherman to suggest that re-signing the beloved Bartolo Colon might not be a front-burner issue for the Mets, if it’s even a consideration for the team at all. From my vantage point, the depth is nice, but bringing back Colon on a one-year deal to provide depth and perhaps step into a swingman role if all of New York’s young arms make full recoveries still seems like a worthwhile pursuit. Speaking speculatively, however, if an earnest run at re-signing Cespedes and adding an impact late-inning arm are both on the docket as well, then perhaps the Mets feel Colon is more of a luxury than a priority.
- Lastly, Sherman tweets that Alderson said the team has to figure out a way to make the catchers that are already in-house better, which does seem to indicate that Plan A, for the time being, is to stick with Travis d’Arnaud next year. Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera remain on the roster as backup candidates as well, though none of that trio hit especially well last season, and d’Arnaud has yet to shed the “injury-prone” label that has hung over him for most of his career. The free-agent market bears a few options in the form of Matt Wieters, Jason Castro and Nick Hundley (plus Wilson Ramos, although he’s recovering from a torn ACL and seems likely to be out for the first couple of months of the 2017 season), though each of that grouping comes with some question marks as well.