Mets may lose Yoenis Cespedes to the Nationals


The Nats’ interest in Cespedes was first reported on Wednesday

The Nationals are serious about wrapping up a deal with free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Jon Heyman, who says the belief is the team is willing to offer around $100 million over five years.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Nats already do have a five-year offer out to Cespedes but did not know the value of the potential contract.

According to Rosenthal, the Mets remain unwilling to offer more than a three-year deal to Cespedes.

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It was recently reported by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that the Mets would be willing to offer Cespedes a three-year deal worth $60 million.

Last week, the Orioles reportedly offered Cespedes a five-year deal worth $90 million before they wound up retaining Chris Davis on a seven-year deal worth $161 million.

A nightmare scenario could be developing for the Mets, with them not only losing the player the fans are begging them to bring back, but watching him go to their main competition in the NL East.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said on Tuesday night that the team remains in contact with Cespedes’ agents. When asked about the situation on Wednesday, team owner Fred Wilpon deferred to Alderson.

Most fans, including yours truly, have been strongly in favor of the Mets retaining Cespedes, and an eruption took place on Twitter when news of Cespedes being seriously pursued by the Nationals broke.

In one instance, an innocuous tweet by the Mets (which was almost certainly scheduled way in advance) turned into a place for fans to vent their frustration with ownership. And the fans have every right to be both angry and disgusted.

On WFAN, Mike Francesa was swayed by the fan outrage, saying the Mets simply can’t let Cespedes go to a division rival if the difference is $40 million over two years.

As I pointed out on Twitter, this isn’t just a “Cespedes thing.” It’s something that’s been building up for a long time.

The fans have been incredibly patient and were finally rewarded last season. We did our part, but ownership has not done theirs. And it’s a shame that Sandy Alderson has to bear the brunt of this in public, since he’s not the one who’s setting the budget.

The fact is that the Mets have not seriously engaged a legitimate upper echelon free agent or pending free agent since 2008, when they traded for and extended Johan Santana. Since then, coinciding with the Bernard Madoff scandal, they have either been unwilling or unable to participate in the higher end of the market.

Dealing with the losing seasons and lack of spending from 2009 to 2014 was one thing, but it would be abhorrent if the Mets lost Cespedes to their main competition in the division when they’re trying to support the best starting rotation in baseball while building on their first postseason appearance in nearly a decade.

The argument that the Mets are right to let Cespedes go because they eventually need to pay their starting pitchers is flawed in two ways. For one, no team could afford to spend $1 billion on their rotation. So if these guys develop properly, the Mets aren’t keeping them all anyway. Second, Matt Harvey won’t be a free agent until after 2018, Zack Wheeler until after 2019, and Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard until after 2020. A five-year deal for Cespedes would expire after 2020.

It would sting if Cespedes wound up somewhere else on a deal that was exorbitant in terms of years or dollars. But if the Nationals are really only willing to go as high as $100 million over five years, it would be inexcusable for the Mets not to match it.

Teams who are in a position to win the World Series should be going for it. They shouldn’t be allowing their division rivals to pilfer the player who helped transform their team and sent their fan base into a frenzy.

It would be extremely hard for the Mets to lose all of the goodwill they generated with their World Series appearance, but allowing Cespedes to go to the Nationals while sitting idly by would do just that.