Mets won’t rule out a full-time replacement for Juan Lagares

John Ricco


More and more, it seems the Mets will enter the 2016 season without the services of Yoenis Cespedes, as assistant GM John Ricco has said it is unlikely the club brings him back under the terms the free agent is seeking.

So the Mets have continued to explore ways to utilize Juan Lagares while increasing their overall production in center field in 2016.

Their preferred strategy appears to be finding a left-handed hitting centerfielder to pair with Lagares in an effort to protect his weaknesses against right-handed pitching, and maximize his exposure against left-handed pitching.

“The general context is trying to get better,” Ricco explained on Wednesday. “And one of the ways would be to find somebody who maybe complements him.”

Lagares will earn $2.5 million in 2016 as part of a five-year, $23.5 million extension he signed with the Mets before the 2015 season.

Of course, Ricco and the Mets will never rule out the possibility of replacing Lagares if an opportunity presents itself. Recall, the Mets acquired Cespedes at the trade deadline due to underperformance – on both sides of the ball – by Lagares in the first half of the season.

“If it were somebody to replace [Lagares], I’m not going to say no to that, but That’s just another one of the options we’re looking at.”

It still maybe a long shot, but if Cespedes’ market drops into the five-year range, the Mets should try to sign him at that level. Of course, other teams will enter the bidding at that price point, but the Mets would only be paying Cespedes up to three years past age-32, and while his value will likely drop due to age decline, the risk is certainly smaller than that contained in a six or seven-year deal.

Of course, the Mets may not wait that long, and presumably Cespedes won’t quickly concede on his demands, especially while the market waits for players like Jason Heyward and Justin Upton to sign.

One of the players the Mets have reportedly shown interested in, Denard Span, is seeking a multi-year deal as well as a full-time job, according to his agent, Scott Boras.

Scott BorasBoras said Span – who underwent hip surgery last summer – is fully healthy and working his way towards being ready for 2016.

“He’s really been back to full speed,” Boras said on Wednesday. “He’s running on a treadmill, doing ladder drills, he’s really doing baseball activities.”

Boras believes Span’s services will be in high demand, specifically because his skill set is unique in the marketplace.

“Leadoff hitters are in demand, they’re hard to find, and a guy who plays center field on top of it,” the agent explained. “He offers teams a very unique skill set. And I think the only thing they need to see is just the fact that he’s back at 100 percent.”

The Mets seem reluctant to offer Span more than a two-year deal, presumably because of the injury concern. It remains to be seen how Span’s market will develop and whether or not that’s ultimately necessary.

Ricco said on Thursday morning before leaving for New York the club has the resources to add not only an outfielder, but relief help and a starting pitcher as well.

“We have the ability to do all the three if the pieces we like are there. We have the resources,” Ricco said on Thursday.

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