After signing a three-year, $75 million contract in January to remain with the New York Mets, Yoenis Cespedes opted out of his deal after the 2016 season. The Mets subsequently extended the $17.2 million qualifying offer to Cespedes, which he predictably declined.
Even with a draft pick attached to him, Cespedes entered free agency as the top player on the open market. The list of comparable right-hander sluggers who are also free agents includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo.
Whereas Cespedes had trouble landing a long-term contract as a free agent last winter in a market that also featured Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, the 31-year-old doesn’t figure to have the same trouble a second time around.
According to Mike Puma of The New York Post, Cespedes is expected to land a five-year contract:
Within the industry, there is a growing sense the star outfielder will command a five-year deal, which would leave the Mets facing a major decision on their immediate future.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Mets and San Francisco Giants have been linked to Cespedes with varying degrees of interest. He batted .280/.354/.530 with 25 doubles, 31 home runs, 86 RBI and 133 OPS+ this season to win a Silver Slugger Award.
Cespedes would be a boost for the Dodgers against left-handed pitching, as he hit .341/.457/.624 with six doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI in 105 plate appearances. Beyond swinging a big bat, the Cuban native also posted a career-best 9.4 percent walk rate.
Though he isn’t particularly stellar at any of the three, Cespedes is capable of playing any position in the outfield. Even with some defensive concerns, he posted a 3.2 WAR this season.
For as much as Cespedes may be a boon to the Dodgers roster, the club has a glut of outfielders and has been hesitant to sign players over 30 years old to a long-term contract.