For a second winter in as many years New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is a free agent. He re-signed with the Mets in January for three years and $75 million that while a lucrative contract, did not meet his expectations when the offseason began.
Cespedes’ deal included an opt-out clause after the first season, which the Cuban native exercised. Unlike his previous brush with free agency, Cespedes this time was eligible to be extended the qualifying offer.
He unsurprisingly was among the eight MLB players who rejected the one-year, $17.2 million pact, in pursuit of a more substantial contract.
Cespedes is one of multiple right-handed sluggers on the open market, and is someone the Los Angeles Dodgers have contacted, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
The Dodgers also have been on contact with big right-handed bats who are free agents, such as Yoenis Cespedes and presumably Jose Bautista and others.
Should the Dodgers, or any club other than the Mets sign Cespedes, they will lose their top unprotected pick in the 2017 Draft due to his rejecting the qualifying offer.
Cespedes, ranked among the top free agents this winter, batted .280/.354/.530 with 25 doubles, 31 home runs, 86 RBI, a 133 OPS+ and career-best 9.4 percent walk rate over 132 games, and won a Silver Slugger Award.
He excelled in an area the Dodgers seek to improve in — against left-handed pitching — batting .341/.457/.624 with six doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI in 105 plate appearances. Even with some defensive concerns, Cespedes posted a 3.2 WAR.
The 31-year-old presumably will land the four- or five-year contract he was in search of last winter. Although Cespedes would be a welcome addition to the Dodgers lineup, the club has a bevy of outfielders and to this point has elected against signing free agents that would cost them a draft pick.