Throughout the entire off-season, Mets officials have been clear about the possibilities of Yoenis Cespedes being retained for the 2016 season and beyond, labeling it as “unlikely” on numerous occasions.
Assistant GM John Ricco has said Cespedes’ demands – which were initially a six-year deal in free agency this winter – were out of the Mets range, although dialogue had been on-going throughout the first part of the winter.
And while the Mets continue to search for right-handed help in the outfield, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the Mets are all but out on the bidding for Cespedes.
In fact, Heyman says talks with Cespedes – who is represented by CAA Baseball and Roc Nation – never included dollars and only years, and the Mets were only interested in retaining the star outfielder on a short-term deal in the range of 2-3 years.
Heyman says there are no discussions currently taking place between the Mets and Cespedes’ agents.
In other words, the Mets are clearly not that interested in bringing Cespedes back at all, given he is still likely to get a deal of at least four years, perhaps five at some point during the winter when the market for outfielders unfolds.
In fairness, it was never truly realistic to believe the Mets would retain Cespedes. Sandy Alderson has been clear throughout his tenure here it is not his game to sign players to long-term deals. That has held true, as the only players his front office have signed to a long-term deal is Juan Lagares, who is beginning a five-year contract extension in 2016, and of course David Wright’s eight-year deal agreed upon in December, 2012.
The next longest contract agreed to under Alderson’s watch is Curtis Granderson at four years, and the Mets were hesitant to give Granderson that fourth guaranteed year in December, 2013.
If the Mets had been successful in their pursuit of Ben Zobrist, he would have matched Granderson’s contract in length and in all probability, dollars as well. So it’s clear Alderson and his group believe in exceptions to their belief of signing players to short-term deals.
Clearly, Cespedes is not one of those exceptions, although many – this author included – believe he is worth a five-year risk to the Mets.
And with the exception of Asdrubal Cabrera, the Mets have procured players this winter who are controllable only in 2016.
One reason for that, presumably, is that they have to account for the increasing costs to their starting pitching in 2017, as Matt Harvey will be arbitration eligible for the second time, and both Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler will be up for arbitration for the first time.
Having said that, the Mets still have to have a viable and steady crew around their pitchers who can support them offensively and in preventing runs behind them.
In fairness, while the Mets have deepened their roster with versatility, they haven’t really upgraded their defense, and it remains to be seen how these platoon formulas come together lineup-wise as well.
Cespedes could have checked a lot of the boxes which remain question marks for them.