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Mets hope to have Cespedes situation resolved sooner than last year

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The Cuban slugger is the top player on this year’s free agent market.

MLB: New York Mets at San Francisco Giants Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets would like to know whether or not they’ll bring back Yoenis Cespedes by the end of the Winter Meetings. If the righty does choose to sign elsewhere—three of the Mets’ division rivals have been listed as hypothetical destinations—the Mets will receive a compensatory draft pick, as they extended Cespedes a qualifying offer yesterday. Alderson added he and Cespedes’s agent have already had some discussions about a contract, though they were “very preliminary” and did not include the exchange of dollar figures.

Cespedes’s return to the Mets would insert the Mets into the thick of the playoff race, as it did last offseason. New York needs another right-handed outfielder, as four of its five outfielders are left-handed: Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Nimmo. Center fielder Juan Lagares is the lone right-handed hitter. If Cespedes doesn’t return, the Mets will likely explore the free-agent market and have already checked in on Jose Bautista.

In 2016, Cespedes hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 72 runs scored in 543 plate appearances. As the top hitter on the free agent market, he will likely seek a five- or six-year deal, much as he sought last year before eventually returning to the Mets on a three-year deal that included an opt-out after its first season.