The scenario that's playing out right now as the Washington Nationals wait for Yoenis Cespedes to decide on a home for the next one, three or five years is all too familiar for fans in the nation's capital after what's transpired already this winter with failed bids to sign the likes of Darren O'Day, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward and a failed attempt to trade for Brandon Phillips.
Unfortunately, it also feeds the (far too simplistic, thus popular) narrative that there must be something rotten in D.C. after the aforementioned players spurned the Nationals' advances this winter, with some even taking less money to sign elsewhere. (So, I guess no one told Daniel Murphy and Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley and Yusmeiro Petit what a toxic environment exists inside the Nats' clubhouse.)
The Nats' reportedly have a 5-year/$100M-ish dollar offer on the table for Cespedes, but the 30-year-old outfielder, as FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported last night, is still talking to the New York Mets, who acquired him last July, and for whom he became an instant hero with a red-hot couple months for the NL East and National League champs.
The Mets, however, as Rosenthal noted, have been, "unwilling to go beyond three years," in spite of the impressive numbers he's put up in the majors and in spite of the big season Cespedes put together in 2015.
Over 57 games in NY following the deadline deal with Detroit, the 30-year-old outfielder put up a .287/.337/.604 line with 14 doubles and 17 home runs in 249 plate appearances. He finished the year at career-high 6.7 fWAR.
In spite of Washington's offer, is reportedly longer and for more overall money than New York's, Rosenthal cited, "two sources with knowledge of his thinking," who said Cespedes, "prefers to stay with the Mets."
Why would he take less money and shorter term deal? Rosenthal took a stab at the free agent's thinking.
He reportedly enjoyed his time in New York, for one, and maybe he didn't want to join his fifth team in four years in the majors?:
"Changing teams again might not appeal to him. Joining the Nationals also might concern him, given the number of strong personalities in their clubhouse.
Cespedes' agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, was scheduled to meet with New York again today.
Would they finally make an offer, which Rosenthal noted, they had not as of last night, as the Mets waited for, "Van Wagenen to signal that Cespedes is willing to accept a term of three or fewer years before opening negotiations."
This morning reports came out on Twitter which said the Mets made a formal three-year offer:
Sources: Mets, Cespedes discussing an opt-out clause after the 1st year of a three-year deal. Would allow him to test market again Fall '16.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 22, 2016
For Cespedes, 3-year deal/opt-out in '16 would give him chance to cash in next fall. For Mets, would limit financial obligation.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 22, 2016
Expectation among some parties in the talks is that Cespedes will make his choice in the next 24 to 48 hours.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 22, 2016
even after nats 5-yr bid said for about $100M, mets are still in touch w/ cespedes. @Ken_Rosenthal suggested YC prefers NYM— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 22, 2016
mets remain interested at 1- 2- or 3 yrs. still hard to see free agent rebuffing 5 yrs for 1-3. dont rule out #mystery team— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 22, 2016
And... nine-ish hours later, that's where things stand. Cespedes is reportedly weighing offers from the Nationals and the Mets...
No word on other teams being involved, though the Chicago White Sox have long been rumored to have interest.
"Mets officials have gone into radio silence this morning," New York Post writers Ken Davidoff and Dan Martin wrote this afternoon. "
If Cespedes took a three-year offer from the Mets with the Nationals' five-year (reportedly) on the table, "... it would be pretty much unprecedented in the annals of baseball business," Davidoff and Martin wrote.
Whatever reasons Cespedes gave, the narrative that the Nationals are now somehow an undesirable destination for players would only grow, because, really, who turns down more security and more money? Right?