Mets fans have dreaded Saturday all season long, dreading the day that Yoenis Cespedes officially notified the Mets that he was opting out of his contract and heading into the free agent market. The Cuban slugger will attempt to turn his year-and-a-half powering the Mets in the spotlight of New York City into a big, long-term contract that is in the neighborhood of $100 million.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson is no fan of those contracts, particularly with a player who just turned 31, but he knows the Mets need him if they are going to use their window of young, power-pitching arms to win a World Series.
He also knows that their projected 2017 lineup is dismal without him. So expect the Mets to be in the mix, courting Cespedes as hard as any other team.
But there will be other teams out there, some with more payroll flexibility, who will be going after Cespedes as well. The Giants could use his bat in the lineup, the Angels or even, gasp, the Mets’ National League East rival Nationals.
So the Mets need to look at other options.
The team has talked about just going forward with Michael Conforto at centerfield, platooning him with Juan Lagares against lefthanders and keeping Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson as the Mets’ corner outfielders if they are unable to sign Cespedes. There are many other options internally other than Brandon Nimmo, who most believe will be a corner outfielder in the minors.
That leaves the Mets at least looking at the free agent market to see what’s out there aside from Cespedes.
There is no perfect fit, and the Mets’ willingness to spend money will be tested, but there are a few players available via free agency that could pick up some of the slack.
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The two-time American League Home Run king is a free agent, and with the Blue Jays prioritizing by hoping to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion, “Joey Bats” could be had. He hit .234 with 22 RBI and 66 RBI this season as he struggled with injuries. That’s the major question teams talking to Bautista this winter will have. He’s 36 years old and a definite health risk.
The Mets have been averse to signing long-term deals, particularly with older players.
The Cubs centerfielder earned himself a raise this season. He hit .276 mostly in the leadoff spot with a .393 on-base percentage. He hit 13 home runs and drove in 48 runs in 125 games. The 30-year-old stole 13 bases last season and would give the Mets some much-needed speed. He also showed he can play a pretty good centerfield last season.
He is likely to get a qualifying offer, meaning any team that signs him that did not finish in the bottom 10 of the majors will give up a draft pick.
(Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
The infielder hit a career-high 42 home runs for the Blue Jays this season and drove in 127 runs. From all accounts, the Blue Jays are going to prioritize bringing him back. The 33-year-old also does not play the outfield, but he does play third base, an option if David Wright continues to struggle with back issues.
It still this seems like an awful big signing for the Mets given their recent history.
Trumbo led the majors with 47 homers and drove in 108 runs for the Orioles this year. He played 96 games in the outfield (95 in right field and one in left). He was among the AL leaders in games played, slugging and total bases while slashing .256/.316/.533.
He also played six games at first base, which would give the Mets some versatility. He will also likely be given a qualifying offer by the Orioles and be looking to cash in on his spectacular season.
The former Nationals shortstop who re-invented his career as an outfielder with the Rangers last season hit .285 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI. Sandy Alderson actually cited Desmond’s versatility transitioning to the outfield when Alderson was explaining the possibility of Jose Reyes moving to the outfield last season.
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Desmond, 31, would also give the Mets the versatility they covet, but will also most likely be tagged with the qualifying offer.
The Blue Jays outfielder hit .253 with 24 homers and drove in 57 runs last season. He also went through a horrible slump the last two months, hitting just .186 in the final 46 games of the regular season. He has also only played one game in centerfield since 2014 and the Mets already have one corner outfielder who went through an end-of-the season slump.
The Mets thought they had the outfielder in his prime, before the Cardinals grabbed him. He’s 36 and hit just .246 last season and is a rough go in the outfield, but he did launch 20 homers this season.
Now that the day that every fan in Flushing has dreaded has finally come and Cespedes has exercised his option to walk away for the Mets, it’s time for the team to start looking at other options.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News