Earlier this week, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes decided to opt out of his contract with the New York Mets and become a free agent. The Mets, who seem to be the front-runners in re-signing Cespedes, do not want to go into a protracted negotiation with him. At the general manager meetings, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has stated that the team wants to know the course of the talks with Cespedes and his agent to decided whether or not to go forward with them. The timeline given for this course is before the end of the Winter Meetings in early December. Now, it is still a month away from the Winter Meetings, but one should tell that this year’s negotiations will be much different from last year. Cespedes’s market will move more quickly this offseason, and there is plenty of room for his market to develop outside of the Mets.
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Still, there’s no single, clear suitor for his services, but here are some teams that may make the play to bring him to their squad for 2017 and possibly beyond:
1. New York Mets
As I stated earlier, the Mets are the clear front-runner to retain Cespedes. The question is how many years and dollars are they willing to give him, and will they try to do the same deal as with the last one to give Cespedes the carrot of huge money for a season or two before another opt-out?
They have already issued the qualifying offer for him, which he will most certainly reject, but it gives the Mets a cushion in a draft pick if he were to sign elsewhere.
2. Washington Nationals
The Nationals would be a very interesting landing spot for Cespedes. It would be very strategic for them, and GM Mike Rizzo, to drive up the bidding on Cespedes, forcing the Mets hand on this. With Bryce Harper in center and Trea Turner at short, it could possibly open the door to another official pursuit of Cespedes — who spurned the Nats last winter to take a deal with the Mets that allowed him to return to the market this winter.
They aren’t truly keen on spending big to add him, but it also seems clear that the organization has a realistic interest in pursuing him at the right price in years and dollars. If Cespedes chooses to sign here, that line-up rivals the Cubs, and could bump the Nationals to co-favorite status in the National League.
3. New York Yankees
It’s free agency, and no free agent rumor would be without the New York Yankees somewhat involved. However, in this instance, there is interest in Cespdes, and not just fleeting interest. The Yankees did reach out to Cespedes’s representatives at CAA, but they have also reached out to other free agents for the outfield as well, notably the Blue Jays’ Jose Batista.
GM Brian Cashman has also stated that their farm system can supply help in the outfield. With all this, it seems that the Yankees will be in the shadows, but if they free up money via trades in the off season, do not be surprised if they make the move on Cespdes to add another big bat to the lineup.