New York Mets: Free Agent Fits for Yoenis Cespedes

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New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes exercised his opt-out clause. Where could he end up?

The world’s worst kept secret outside of the presidential election became official yesterday when New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes officially opted out of his contract and became a free agent.

Cespedes was free agent last year, but signed a three year deal with the Mets last off-season with the opt-out for him to enter back into the market.

He was named to his second All-Star team in 2016. In 132 games, Cespedes hit .280 with an .884 OPS. He added 31 homers and 86 RBI. He is a true impact bat, someone who is capable of carrying a team for a couple of weeks at a time, as he did with the Mets on their way to the 2015 pennant.

This time around in the free agent market, Cespedes shouldn’t have to settle for the kind of deal he got last season, even if the Mets give him a qualifying offer and the Mets get a draft pick if they lose him.

The Mets should face some stiff competition for Cespedes’ services next year. The division rival Nationals offered him a five year deal with a deferment.  Any of these teams could go after him as well. 

Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo will be free agents as well, but Cespedes also provides value defensively, something those other two players do not.

So, come opening day 2017, where will Yoenis Cespedes be playing? Here are five possible landing spots for the slugger’s services.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

This may be a bit out of the box, but bare with me on this. The Dodgers big weakness last season was facing lefties. They have a bit of a hole in left field. Andre Ethier should be back next season in full strength. How much faith do they have in Yasiel Puig? Puig seemed like a different guy after coming back from his demotion, but will they rely on him?

Cespedes had an OPS last year of 1.081 vs left-handed pitching last season. If they lose Justin Turner in free agency, they could turn their attention to landing the outfielder. Adrian Gonzalez is losing a bit of power and a combination of Cespedes and Corey Seager could give the rest of the NL West fits for years to come.

I’m not quite sure this comes to fruition though. The Dodgers are trying to be a team that relies more on their farm system than a big free agent. If they lose Turner and or Kenley Jansen, I think they look towards trying to fill those spots. Rich Hill is also a free agent who the Dodgers would have to replace if they lose him. They may not want to spend the money on Cespedes with other holes to fill.

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San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants are another possible landing spot for Cespedes. The Giants have some money coming off the books with among others, Jake Peavy, Santiago Casilla, and Angel Pagan. Pagan was the Giants starting left fielder last season.

Cespedes would provide the Giants something that they did not have last season. Power. Brandon Belt led the team in homers last year with 17. The Giants have a big ballpark, but they need someone who’s going to be able to put the ball out of the ballpark.

A middle of the order of Belt, Cespedes, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence could do a lot of damage in the NL West. Combine that with the starting pitching the Giants have and you get a team that could very well win a World Series during an odd year for once.

The Giants have a very big hole they have to fill at closer. It cost them dearly last year. They are also going to have to re-do Madison Bumgarner‘s contract sooner rather than later. I can’t see the Giants dropping a ton of money on left field for next year.

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Toronto Blue Jays

If Cespedes is willing to play there, Toronto would be a great fit. He could DH. He could play left field for them. A lineup with him, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin would be a nice start. The Blue Jays have a big part of their offense in free agency.

Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders are all free agents and the Blue Jays more than likely won’t be keeping all of them. Even if they are to keep just Encarnacion, an outfield starting Melvin Upton Jr.and Kevin Pillar could use another bat of impact. With those contracts as well as R.A. Dickey coming off the books, the Jays do have some money to play with.

Toronto is a great place to hit with a passionate fan base. Cesdpedes could certainly thrive playing in that kind of environment.

The big question with this is would Cespedes want to play in Canada? The team would have to really sell him on playing there full time. Also, with Mark Shapiro now in charge, it may be a different approach in free agency than before. Shapiro wants to build back the farm system a bit that had been gutted threw some trades. Could they sacrifice another pick?

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Washington Nationals

Cespedes almost ended up in Washington last season, but he rejected a five year deal that had some heavy deferments. Cespedes should be a target for the Nationals.

Jayson Werth is a free agent after this season. Bryce Harper will be a free agent after 2018 as will Daniel Murphy. The time is now for the Nats to strike. Adding Cespedes could help them move Trea Turner back to shortstop. If Harper would be willing to play center along with Cespedes and Turner on a rotating basis to keep everyone fresh it could boost the chances of Cespedes signing there.

If the Nationals can avoid having such heavy deferments on the deal that would be a big boost as well. Cespedes didn’t take that the first time and likely wont this time either.

Secondly, getting Cespedes would be another blow to the Mets. After taking Murphy from them last year, stealing their best player in free agency would be another big blow to their division rival.

A lineup with Cespedes may be one of the best and deepest in the game. Their core is getting older and it’s starting to feel like if not now then when will it happen for the Nationals?

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New York Mets

The New York Mets should be in the market to keep their best player. When they got him in 2015, he totally changed their club offensively and their lineup was so much better and deeper with him in 2016. Cesepedes was the only right-handed bat they could on. David Wright got hurt and Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t productive.

The Mets outfield as it stands now is too left-handed with Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Juan Lagares is the lone right-handed option and hasn’t shown much offensively during his career.

Cespedes got too worn down playing center all the time. If the Mets bring him back, they can’t put him there all the time.

If they keep Cespedes, they can put Bruce on the trade market to save money and try and fill other holes.

To me, Cespedes is a must keep for the Mets. He’s an impact player in that lineup and their lone source of right handed pop.

At the end of the day, I think the Mets do spend the money and keep him. They trade Bruce for other needs and rotate their other players in the other two outfield spots. I think the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson realize he’s too important to the club and the fan base and get the deal done.

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