Depending on who you ask Yoenis Cespedes is the top free agent bat this winter. Personally I would argue for the more consistent Edwin Encarnacian, but I understand why some National League teams may prefer Cespedes due to the likelihood he remains an outfielder for the entirety of his contract. Edwin, meanwhile, is likely to have to move to DH in the next few years if not sooner.
This extra demand for Cespedes puts the Mets in a tough spot. They made the playoffs last year despite suffering an insane amount of injuries. Next season they're getting back Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler. Yet even with that potentially elite starting rotation it's tough to envision the Mets in the playoffs with their current lineup. Neil Walker accepting his qualifying offer is a plus but this offense struggled mightily down the stretch last year. Outside of Walker New York is currently relying on Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, and Asdrubal Cabrera as top of the order bats. The Mets finished 26th in the league in runs per game last season.
A recent report from the New York Post suggests Cespedes could land a five year contract north of $130 million. This would seemingly take the Mets out of the running for him as they would prefer to give him a four year deal in the $100-$110 million range. What should worry Mets fans is that there are no shortage of teams interested in him. He has already been linked to the Giants, Dodgers, Nationals, and Yankees. It seems likely one of these teams will give Cespedes the fifth year he wants.
If the Mets remain unable, or unwilling, to match that sort of contract than it will ultimately be a test at how badly Yo wants to stay in New York. Anyone who watches baseball can tell you the trade to the Mets has re-ignited his career, and that he has brought a certain swagger and identity to the team that was previously lacking. Although his .530 slugging percentage in 2016 did not match the .604 number he posted with New York in 2015, he still belted 31 homers with 86 RBI. The most encouraging development for the 31-year-old, however, was his career best 9.4% walk rate that easily blows past his previous career high of 8.0%. If the Mets are unable to re-sign him they will reportedly turn their efforts to Jose Bautista and Dexter Fowler.