Posted on November 17, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
New York Mets’ fans who assumed that Yoenis Cespedes would leave this winter in free agency have some hope. The latest reports indicate that four teams have expressed an interest in signing Cespedes, and the Mets are among them. However, the identity of the three other teams is pure speculation at this time. Also encouraging is that on Wednesday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson confirmed that there is mutual interest in a reunion.
“I think we’ve said as an organization that we’d like to have him back,” Alderson said in a radio interview Wednesday. “I think we’re, in one sense, in a better position than we were last year because Yoenis has been with us now for a little less than a year and a half and [he’s] much more familiar with the organization and his teammates and the city than he was before. I think by all indications he’s happy with all three of those elements and would like to come back. Whether we can figure something out will depend on those things, which are positive, and the market, which is undetermined at this point.”
Alderson also said that the Mets communicate regularly with Cespedes’ agent, and that Cespedes himself contacted the Mets to let them know he’d like to return. “He has texted the organization and indicated his interest in coming back,” Alderson shared. “So there has been communication directly, and not through his agent. Of course, we’ve talked to his agent quite a bit. There’s been an expression of interest on his part, which is positive.”
Cespedes’ representatives have said that they would like a decision made by the early part of December. The Mets have also expressed interest in a fast resolution, one way or another. Of course, last winter Cespedes didn’t end up re-signing with the Mets until late January. With Cespedes being arguably the top free agent on the market this offseason, it may be up to him to sign with a team sooner rather than later to help set the market for other players.
In the event they don’t re-sign Cespedes, Alderson and the Mets appear to have contingency plans. “This is sort of how I categorized it the other day when we had some internal conversations: There are three categories of right-handed power,” Alderson explains. He says that Cespedes deserves to be in a category by himself. “I’d put him in a separate category. If he comes back, great. If he doesn’t, we need to be able to deal with it,” says Alderson.
The second category, according to Alderson, are players that are somewhat comparable to Cespedes in terms of the playing time they would warrant, referring to them as “significant hitters.” Alderson didn’t make out a list, but did mention Jose Bautista as an example, indicating the Mets may see him as a back up plan if Cespedes doesn’t return.
Alderson says the third category would be a complementary to help balance out a outfield that right now contains three left-handed hitters in Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto. Alderson mentioned Steve Pearce as a player who might fit into that category, again implying a level of interest if Cespedes doesn’t return.
So what is New York’s plan? “Right now, we’re trying to decide internally, separate and apart from whether Yoenis comes back or not, as a Plan B or a Plan C: How important is it for us to rebalance right versus left? If you look at our roster overall, as opposed to just the outfield, we do have quite a bit of flexibility,” explains Alderson.
Obviously, the Mets don’t have a firm plan in place, but they are working on one. Of course, if the Mets can re-sign Cespdes, they won’t need an alternate plan. If nothing else, Mets’ fans can at least know that the team is in the running to re-sign Cespedes and that Cespedes does have interest in a return to New York.