As a centerfielder, Sandy Alderson sees Yoenis Cespedes as a square peg

BaronThe Mets payroll for 2016 currently stands at about $109 million, which includes players currently under contract, those earning the league minimum, and the high-end salary projections for arbitration eligible players.

While that figure is unquestionably below-market, that payroll figure is approximately the same as it was by the end of the 2015 season for all players on the 40-man roster, according to Cots Contracts. But it’s also approximately seven percent higher than their Opening Day, 2015 payroll.

And as Sandy Alderson noted on Thursday afternoon at the New York Athletic Club, their payroll is significantly higher than it was two seasons ago, and stands to grow even higher in 2016.

“Our payroll at the end of 2014 was $85 million, $86 million all-in,” Alderson explained. “I would suspect this year we’ll end up at $115 or so, or maybe higher than that, $120. That’s a $35-million increase in just two years.”

When the Mets escalate their payroll to the General Manager’s projection is unclear. Is that figure a budget set ahead of Opening Day? Is that their all-inclusive payroll for the season, including players they call-up and acquire throughout the season?

With requirements still unfulfilled on the bench and in the bullpen, it remains to be seen how that is truly defined.

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Six right-handed hitters who could fill the Mets need in the outfield

BaronWith Spring Training just over six weeks away, the Mets still need to find a right-handed replacement to Michael Cuddyer,  who announced his retirement in mid-December.

Cuddyer was set to earn $12.5 million in in 2016. He did not deny that there was a negotiated buyout of the money owed to him in 2016, so presumably the Mets will have net a figure that is less than the actual amount owed to devote to a replacement.

The market for outfielders has been incredibly slow to develop this winter, with only Jason Heyward signed among the lot of top-tiered outfielders signed. Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon are still free agents, with no real clarity yet defined as to where they will sign.

Mets NY BlueThe White Sox and Orioles were listed among the favorites to sign Cespedes, according to’s Jesse Sanchez, but the Sox apparently did not want to commit to Cespedes beyond three years, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported. The same can be said for the White Sox and Gordon.

As for Upton, there have been very few reports connecting him to any team. The Angels were engaged in discussions with Upton’s agents during the Winter Meetings, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, but those talks did not progress.

But as the league and team executives go back to work in January, the market will soon have to start to define itself with the clock ticking on the off-season.

The Mets, meanwhile, appear to be unwilling to commit to longer-term to anyone – be it a starting pitcher, reliever, or position player – this winter. Only Asdrubal Cabrera has been signed to a multi-year deal, and the Mets only committed themselves through 2017 with their new shortstop. The rest of their winter acquisitions – Neil Walker, Jerry Blevins, Bartolo Colon, and Alejandro De Aza – have been procured for only one year.

Still, the Mets are seeking to build a roster with position players who are capable of starting everyday for them right out of the gate in 2016, with hopes such a deep roster will effectively support their pitching staff and give them the necessary four runs per game they believe is necessary to win on a regular basis.

71 of the 90 regular season wins the Mets recorded in 2015 came when the Mets scored at least four runs per game.

The Mets 2016 payroll is currently projected at around $109 million, which includes monies owed to players under contract, arbitration projections, and players earning the league minimum. Whatever the final figure is before Opening Day, it can be assumed an additional $4-5 million will be needed to cover player call-ups and additional payroll expenses for the season, which is normal for any team.

Here’s a look at some of the remaining right-handed bats which fits the Mets needs this winter… Continue reading

White Sox, Orioles emerging as the leaders to sign Yoenis Cespedes

BaronYoenis Cespedes’ market this winter has been slow to develop, which could at least be partially due to his public demands for a six-year contract before the end of the 2015 season.

But Cespedes’ market could be starting to percolate, according to Jesse Sanchez of 

Sanchez says the Orioles and White Sox have emerged as the favorites to land the 30-year-old outfielder, with the Angels and Giants both in the mix for his services as well.

The Mets, meanwhile, are not in the running to sign Cespedes, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. In fact, the Mets and Cespedes’ agents never got further than discussing the parameter of a 2-3 year proposal, and didn’t even discuss potential dollars in such a scenario, either.

Heyman says there are no discussions currently taking place between the Mets and Cespedes’ agents. Continue reading

Mets are out on Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes throws 32edds

BaronThroughout 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. Continue reading

Mets would prefer to sign Yoenis Cespedes to a short-term deal

Yoenis Cespedes 1 slice


Late in the 2015 season, the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes re-negotiated the part in the star outfielder’s contract to eliminate the clause stating his current team had five days following the World Series to retain him, otherwise he would have to be released, thus disqualifying that team from signing him until the following May 15.

Certainly, that could be interpreted as the Mets not wanting to completely shut the door on re-signing their transformational pickup from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. But it also means Cespedes and his agents didn’t want to eliminate a team from contending for his services, especially his current team which was ultimately World Series bound this past season.

But Cespedes made it clear at that time he wanted to sign no less than a six-year contract in his first winter as a free agent. As has seemingly been the case with most of his suitors so far this winter, that has deterred the Mets from a pursuit of the now free agent outfielder.

Assistant GM John Ricco has publicly labeled a reunion with Cespedes as “unlikely” given his current demands.

Ideally, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets would like to retain Cespedes on a 2-3 year deal.

Yoenis Cespedes-00202But even as the 30-year-old outfielder’s market has been slow to develop, it seems highly unlikely he would sign for such a deal, regardless of the money offered.

From the player’s perspective, that’s understandable. It’s difficult to hit the open market as a 32 or 33-year-old and achieve the security they seek, thanks to their next deal coming in their post-prime years.

But with the Mets gaining significant additional financial flexibility after Michael Cuddyer announced his retirement, the Mets can’t simply close the door on Cespedes. Despite his flaws and struggles in the postseason (presumably due to a hand and shoulder injury), he’s proven difference maker and a success story in New York. His skill set and ability to carry an offense with his power and production have gone unmatched since the days of Mike Piazza.

The front office knows that.

Certainly, a six-year deal would be concerning for the Mets, or any club for that matter. Cespedes’ game – with his long swing and lack of plate discipline – can be prone to rapid aging in this sport, and paying a player like this upwards of $100 million in his post-prime years is a big gamble to take.

But perhaps the two sides can eventually come to a compromise on a front-loaded deal and an opt-out clause after two or three years. That would give the player an opportunity to test the market if he’s coming off a good run, and the Mets could potentially wash their hands of the contract under the terms they seek while reaping the rewards of a dynamic player in their window of opportunity.

Of course, that’s merely speculation right now, and by far a guarantee from happening.

But if Cespedes’ market doesn’t develop as he originally anticipated it would, perhaps this would be an agreeable arrangement for him.

Cespedes has been connected to the Tigers and Angels so far this off-season.

Cespedes hit .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs and 44 RBI in 57 games with the Mets in 2015. He went 12-for-54 with a double, two home runs and eight RBI in 14 postseason games in 2015.