Yoenis Cespedes sends mixed messages to Mets about future

As Yoenis Cespedes sat at his locker in the Mets quiet clubhouse late Wednesday night, he was approached by coaches and teammates. They brought bats and balls for the slugger to sign. He spoke quietly, individually to several members of the Mets support staff, declined to talk to reporters.

Still, he left the Mets clubhouse, even those he did speak to, in a state of limbo about his and the Mets future. The Cuban slugger has until three days after the World Series to exercise the option in his three-year deal with the Mets to walk after this year.

“You have to believe he will,” one Mets source said Thursday morning of Cespedes opting out. “It makes no financial sense for him not to, but we don’t know. He told some people (in the organization) he loves it here and will definitely be back. He said good bye to some people and told them he won’t be back.”

So at the end of Cespedes’ season was just like his and the Mets season as a whole: inconsistent and waiting for him to make his move. Cespedes went 0-for-4 against Madison Bumgarner in the Mets’ loss to the Giants in the National League wild-card game. He finished the season hitting .214 with four home runs and 18 RBI over his last 27 games and struggled for his second straight postseason. He went 12-for-54 (.222) in the Mets run to the World Series last year.

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“This guy’s a great talent. I just thought we needed him,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We needed him bad, and that he was ready for it. He was all fired up, and, as you know, the old adage, good pitching beats good hitting, and tonight (Bumgarner) was better.”

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Cespedes struggled with an injury most of the season, just like the Mets. With 12 different players going on the disabled list, including losing David Wright in May for the rest of the season and Cespedes for two weeks, and having three of their five starters suffer season-ending injuries, the Mets getting to the wild card game was unlikely.

One Mets source said the team is preparing for Yoenis Cespedes to opt out of his contract.

One Mets source said the team is preparing for Yoenis Cespedes to opt out of his contract.

(Lynne Sladky/AP)

The Mets were staggered by the loss of Matt Harvey (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome), Jacob deGrom (elbow surgery) and Steven Matz (shoulder impingement) but they rallied around Noah Syndergaard, who was brilliant Wednesday night, the ever-rejuvenated Bartolo Colon and rookies Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. They also kept their heads above water with a superior back-end of the bullpen. Addison Reed was the best setup man in baseball and Jeurys Familia set a franchise record with 51 saves in the regular season.

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Familia gave up a three-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday night, however, echoing the homer he gave up in the blown save of Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Wednesday revived the questions about his ability to close in the postseason.

“I think that’s something we certainly need to be careful of, address,” Collins said of Familia’s yips in the playoffs.

The Mets have to consider that going into next season. Reed and Familia are arbitration eligible but will be back to try again in 2017. The Mets expect to have their starters back healthy, including they hope Zack Wheeler two years after Tommy John surgery, but this season proved the need for even more. Perhaps they bring back the 43-year old Colon as insurance in the rotation and protection in the bullpen and bring in another veteran bullpen arm to help ease Familia’s workload in the season and insurance for the post season.

Wednesday night, the Mets left with many questions. Will they offer Neil Walker a qualifying offer to come back and play second, or are they content to piece it together with T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores? What can they expect from Wright, who missed over 100 games for the second straight season with injury? Will they pick up the options of Jose Reyes, who was critical filling in at third for Wright, and Jay Bruce, who after a rough start showed the power that made them deal for him at the trade deadline. What can they expect from Michael Conforto, who struggled in his second season in the majors, and Travis d’Arnaud, who had been benched by the end of the regular season for backup catcher Rene Rivera?

Will Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce return to the Mets next season?

The Mets 2016 season was unlikely. Disappointing at times, thrilling at others. They overcame an absolute tidal wave of injuries and ended in the same suspense they had all season. What will Cespedes do?

Tags:
yoenis cespedes
terry collins
sports injuries
new york mets
san francisco giants
mlb
mlb playoffs

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