The Mets have not opened contract talks with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in advance of his opt-out decision, which is due on Saturday, according to ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. Cespedes will reportedly turn down the two years and $47.5MM remaining on his contract and instead re-enter the open market.
While there are still a few days to try some last-minute bargaining, it seems that the club is resigned to allowing Cespedes to test the market. There is still interest in a return, but the Mets also seem to have a realistic appraisal of how the veteran’s own interests align with the team’s willingness to spend.
New York isn’t particularly interested in striking a lengthier deal, says Rubin, with the team not even inclined to go to four years to retain their best offensive producer. It seems that the Mets are still not convinced that Cespedes would provide the desired everyday effort if given that kind of deal.
It remains to be seen what the market will bear, but other teams were reportedly willing to guarantee Cespedes five years last winter. He’s a year older now, but also has another season of top-notch production under his belt. All told, Cespedes seems positioned to achieve at least five guaranteed seasons at a rather lofty salary as the best available free agent.
What’s most interesting about the Mets’ situation, perhaps, is the question of how the club will balance ongoing interest with Cespedes with the need to go in an alternative direction if that doesn’t come about. Presumably, New York will adopt a wait-and-see strategy as it did last winter. That approach led the team to sign Alejandro De Aza earlier in the market, and he ended up being a largely superfluous piece.
This time, the Mets will need to add a right-handed-hitting piece if Cespedes isn’t brought back, Rubin suggests. While the club hopes Lucas Duda will play more or less everyday at first, he says, a righty bat could be added to pair at first and provide an option in a corner outfield mix that is also dominated by lefties. Expectations are that any new addition would be relatively “modest,” per Rubin.
Interestingly, also, the Mets could also revisit the idea of utilizing Jose Reyes on the outfield grass. The switch-hitting infielder has never played there as a professional outside of a single appearance in Rookie ball at 17 years of age. But he could be utilized in a ranging utility role, per the report, at least so long as David Wright is able to take back over at third and Neil Walker (or some other player) is added to handle second.