Rumors: Nats’ Talks with Yoenis Cespedes Heating Up

Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /
Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Nationals have reportedly offered All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes a five-year contract.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Nats have a five-year, $100 million offer on the table with 30-year old Cuban left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. The contract is reportedly structured with deferred payments over several years.

Cespedes split the 2015 season between Detroit and the NL East-rival New York Mets, posting a combined .291/.328/.542 slash line with 35 homers, 105 RBIs, and 101 runs scored over 159 games. He earned a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts in the outfield and finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

The Cuban native was signed as an international free agent by the Oakland A’s in 2012. He spent two and a half seasons with the Athletics before being dealt at the 2014 trade deadline to the Red Sox for Jonny Gomes and Jon Lester. Boston, a rebuilding club at the time, sent him packing for Detroit over the offseason. Once again, however, his tenure would not last long with his new team. With the Tigers struggling to stay afloat in the competitive AL Central, Cespedes was once again traded, this time to the Mets. He played a crucial role in New York’s pennant-winning season, hitting 17 home runs in 57 regular season games.

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He would join an already crowded outfield in D.C. that would most likely boast a trio of Cespedes/Ben Revere/Harper on Opening Day. His signing would most likely push veteran Jayson Werth to the bench, despite being owed $42 million over the next two seasons. Werth, however, is entering his age-37 season after missing 74 games in 2015 and is expected to decline further next season.

With Revere expected to hold down the center field position given his plus defense, ability to leadoff, and left-handed presence in the lineup, 27-year old Michael Taylor is seemingly left without a clear path to consistent playing time in the next two years. Following that logic, it would not be surprising if Taylor is dealt before the end of the offseason if the Nats really do sign Cespedes.

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Cespedes would most likely slot into the cleanup spot in the lineup, adding serious power behind Harper that the team clearly lacked last season. Although he owns a high strikeout rate, something the team has been reluctant to add this offseason, his premiere power is enough to excuse the K’s.