Mets' Cespedes era over; talks brief, complementary OF now sought

If Mets fans are still holding out hope they may yet find superstar outfielder Yoenis Cespedes under the tree, they can forget about it.

The signing of Alejandro De Aza seemed to pretty well close the door on Cespedes, and sources say the Mets' foray into the Cespedes market was brief. And now it is over. (It may have been over for a while.)

The Mets are still looking for a right-hitting outfielder, but it won't be Cespedes, according to sources familiar with their thinking. They seek someone to complement the three lefty bats that will man left field, right field and first base (Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda), and it is believed they are looking at Steve Pearce and others in that category.

Pearce, 32, hit .218/.289/.422 over 92 games played (294 at-bats) with the Orioles last season. There are a couple of other right-hitting outfielders on the free-agent market, including Chris Denorfia, who hit .269/.319/.373 last season in 103 appearances (212 at-bats) with the Cubs.

As for Cespedes, the Mets at some point this winter suggested a short-term deal of perhaps "two or three" years for the star outfielder, according to sources, and word is they never even named a price. That's probably just as well on the price since Cespedes would be expected to find a deal for at least five or six years on the market.

Cespedes' market has remained mostly a secret, but teams that have been linked to him at some level include the Giants, Angels, Tigers and White Sox. He sparked the Mets' second-half revival after his trade to them at the July 31 trade deadline, but it's been seen as something of a long shot that they'd be able to bring him back to Queens.

While Cespedes, 30, played brilliantly for the Mets in getting them to the playoffs (he had 17 home runs and 44 RBI in 57 games, and a .942 OPS) the Mets seem content to lengthen their lineup rather than keep their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters. They already replaced No. 3 hitter Daniel Murphy, a postseason sensation, by acquiring Neil Walker in a trade for Jonathon Niese.

Against all odds, Mets fans had still been holding out hope there was an outside chance Cespedes, who had 35 home runs, 105 RBI and a .291 batting average between the Mets and Tigers in 2015, could fall into the team's lap on a shorter deal. But word is there are currently no discussions ongoing with the Mets and Cespedes.

That probably isn't such a surpise since they dedicated $5.75 million to De Aza, who will apparently split center field with Juan Lagares. While the Mets do seek a righty hitter to play some outfield, word from people close to the situation is that they seek more of a "completmentary" type player.

The Mets are blessed with likely the best young pitching rotation in baseball, and seem content to have a long lineup, if not a star-filled one. Conforto, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and beloved veteran David Wright are seen as candidates to fill the key Nos. 3 and 4 spots in the lineup.

Yoenis Cespedes(USATSI)
The Mets will need to find a replacement for Yoenis Cespedes. (USATSI)
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