The latest from FOXSports.com's bow-tied reporter, Ken Rosenthal, who wrote this afternoon that the Washington Nationals reportedly made a five-year offer to free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, is that the 30-year-old veteran of four major league seasons is torn between returning to the New York Mets or joining the Mets' NL East rivals in the nation's capital.
Cespedes, acquired by the Mets at last July's non-waiver trade deadline, put up a .293/.323/.506 line, 28 doubles and 18 HRs in 427 plate appearances with the Detroit Tigers before the deal, then put up a .287/.337/.604 line with 14 doubles and 17 home runs in 249 PAs with New York, helping lead the Mets to the NL East crown and National League title in a less-than stellar postseason performance (.222/.232/.352, 1 2B, 2 HRs in 56 PAs).
Cespedes finished the 2015 campaign at a career-best 6.7 fWAR, up from 2.9, 2.4 and 3.3, respectively, in his first three major league seasons.
"According to two sources with knowledge of his thinking," Rosenthal writes tonight, "[Cespedes] prefers to stay with the Mets," with whom he's still in contact:
"The lead agent for Cespedes, CAA’s Brodie Van Wagenen, remains in touch with the Mets, and the two sides are scheduled to speak again on Friday, sources said."
While Rosenthal's sources say that the Nationals have made an offer for an undisclosed amount (reported elsewhere to be $100M+), they also tell him that as of now, the Mets, "... have yet to make a formal offer to Cespedes," since they are waiting for his agent, "... to signal that Cespedes is willing to accept a term of three or fewer years before opening negotiations."
Why would he accept a shorter deal and less overall money from New York? While Rosenthal notes that it "stands to reason" that his agent, "would encourage Cespedes to accept the longer term and higher guarantee from the Nationals," he reports that, "[b]y all accounts, [Cespedes] enjoyed his brief stay with the Mets," might not want to move on to his fifth team in five seasons and might be concerned about, "the number of strong personalities" in the Nats' clubhouse.
Will Cespedes be the fourth player this winter to spurn the Nationals after their bids for reliever Darren O'Day, utility man Ben Zobrist and outfielder Jason Heyward failed to lure the three to D.C.?
[ed. note - "And don't forget about Brandon Phillips not waiving his no-trade protection to facilitate a deal..."]
Is it a trend that's bad news for the Nationals, or did O'Day go back where he began, where he had success and where he was comfortable with a manager he knew, as did Zobrist in rejoining Joe Maddon, while Heyward went to Chicago because, as he explained, he liked the potential of the young core with the Cubs and thought they could keep winning for years to come and Phillips exercised his 10/5 rights to stay where wanted to?
[ed. note - "That's not the correct narrative. 'No one wants to play for the Nationals!' is the right one!"]
Will Cespedes return to NY? Will he enrage Mets fans and sign with the Nationals? Or will the inevitable mystery team, if that isn't the Nats' role, come along and give him another option?