Storylines: Yoenis Cespedes returns to New York Mets

The Mets did their lineup a major service by re-signing a star, the Brewers brought back a slugger from Korea, and many more storylines from Tuesday around the bigs.

Top storyline

  • The Yoenis Cespedes rumors can finally be put to bed. The Cuban slugger has agreed to return to the Big Apple on a four-year, $110 million deal, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. It represents the largest free agent deal in Mets franchise history. The Mets can breathe a huge sigh of relief as they will not have to wait out the slugger like they did last year when he re-signed with the club late in the offseason. After acquiring Cespedes in a deadline deal with the Detroit Tigers back at the 2015 deadline, Cespedes quickly became the heart and soul of the Mets as he helped lead them to the NL East title and all the way to the World Series. After returning for another year, he enjoyed another strong season in which he hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 81 RBI. The veteran clearly has enjoyed his time with the Mets, and after opting out of his previous deal, he returns with a larger chunk of change, while the Mets are able to keep their best hitter in the lineup under contract for four more years. The Mets had reportedly been growing optimistic that he would end up returning, and their optimism was rewarded as they quickly have to come to an agreement, thus taking locking one of the best players in the free-agent market to a long-term deal. With Cespedes back in the fold, the Mets now have an outfield logjam, as they currently have more outfielders than they can afford to play at the moment. With Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, and Brandon Nimmo all vying for playing time, it would appear that someone is going to be dealt sooner than later in order to clear up the outfield. Cespedes’ new contract also contains a full no-trade clause.

Other storylines

  • It didn’t take the Milwaukee Brewers long to find a replacement for Chris Carter. The Brewers have come to an agreement to sign first baseman Eric Thames for three years and $16 million, per Adam McCalvy of The contract will also contain a $7.5 million option for the 2020 season, making it possibly a four-year deal if he is able to perform. His contract also contains express language that indicates he must give consent to be optioned or outrighted to the minors and will be eligible for a small assignment bonus in the unforeseen circumstances of a trade. The veteran is returning to the MLB after a brief stint in Korea in the KBO league. Over the course of four years, he hit a whopping .348/.450/.720 with 124 home runs in Korea. That being said, the KBO is known to be an extremely hitter-friendly league and it remains to be seen whether or not Thames can translate his success from the KBO back to the MLB where he struggled to find success from 2011-2012 at the beginning of his career.

  • The Seattle Mariners are reportedly interested in the services of righty Doug Fister, per Bob Dutton of Tacoma News-Tribune. The Mariners are a little short on starting pitching since they shipped Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Jean Segura, so it makes sense they’d be interested in a veteran such as Fister to fill out their rotation.

  • The market for lefty Rich Hill has been narrowed down to about six teams, per Jim Bowden of ESPN.  The teams currently pursuing the veteran are the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore Orioles. All clearly are in need of pitching and could very well engage in a bidding war for Hill, thus making his price tag go higher up.

  • The Houston Astros aggressively pursued the services of Cespedes before he signed with the Mets, per Buster Olney of ESPN. While they fell short, their pursuit indicates they are still looking to be active in terms of hunting for position players despite already trading for Brian McCann and signing Josh Reddick, and they could very well be in play for Edwin Encarnacion. The addition of Encarnacion could very well solidify the Astros as having one of the best lineups in the American League.

  • The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly making a push to trade for Bruce, per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The Jays almost landed Bruce in the previous offseason in a three-team deal with the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Angels, but medical concerns involving a prospect made the deal fall apart. Should the Blue Jays land Bruce, that would assuredly eliminate any chance of Jose Bautista returning to Toronto.

  • The Miami Marlins have sent out some signals to indicate they’d be interested in dealing closer A.J. Ramos, per Jayson Stark of ESPN. While the news sounds a little shocking, Ramos is due for a substantial raise in 2017 and is only under club control for another two seasons, so it may make sense for the Marlins to shop him while his value is at its highest to get more pitching to plug into the rotation.

  • The Colorado Rockies are interested in a reunion with first baseman Mark Reynolds, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Reynolds signed a one-year deal with the Rockies last year and hit .282/.356/.450 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI in 118 games. The Rockies don’t appear to have any internal candidates ready to take over first base full-time, so a reunion with Reynolds is not out of the question.

  • It appears the Chicago Cubs have figured out an answer to who will play center field in 2017. The Cubs have agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with veteran Jon Jay, per Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Jay hit .291/.339/.389 with the San Diego Padres last year. He lost a lot of time to a fractured forearm, but his signing indicates that the Cubs will not bring back Dexter Fowler and instead will most likely utilize a platoon of Jay and Albert Almora Jr. in center field.

  • The Blue Jays are showing interest in Fowler, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The Jays were a very right-handed-heavy lineup last year, and despite the addition of Kendrys Morales, a switch-hitter who hits naturally from the left side, they still remain right-handed heavy. The Blue Jays are hoping to add a little more balance to the lineup, and adding Fowler, a plus defender in center field and an excellent leadoff hitter, would certainly push them in that direction.

  • The Reds are open to taking offers on any of their players and seem especially intent on listening to offers on center fielder Billy Hamilton, per Olney. Hamilton has always been a speed demon on the bases and defensive wizard in center field but also has struggled with the bat. He was once regarded as one of their top prospects, but it appears the Reds don’t view him in the same light they once did. He would still probably cost a high sum considering players with his speed don’t grow on trees, but that will certainly be something to watch for down the road.

  • The Philadelphia Phillies have interest in bringing back veteran catcher A.J. Ellis, and an interest in a reunion is mutual on Ellis’ part, per Stark. Ellis is nearing the end of his career, but with a young clubhouse, the Phillies clearly believe having someone with the experience that Ellis has would be a huge benefit to the young core group and offer some guidance for 2017. Ellis was acquired at the waiver deadline from the Dodgers in 2016.

  • Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon has been named the National League Comeback Player of the Year, and Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello has been named the American League Comeback Player of the Year. Rendon hit .270/.348/.450 and 20 home runs and 85 RBI in 2016, while Porcello put up a 3.15 ERA across 223 innings of work, winning 22 games. That earned him the nod to become the AL Cy Young Award winner for 2016.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals are expressing interest in third baseman Justin Turner, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The Cardinals were planning on starting Jhonny Peralta at third base but seem to be having a change of mind. Should they somehow sign Turner, they would most likely attempt to trade Peralta to a team with infield needs. It remains to be seen if that scenario will indeed come to fruition though.

  • There is some growing optimism about a new CBA deal getting done by the Thursday deadline, per Morosi. Multiple reports throughout Tuesday have indicated that there is a sense that both sides are keen to strike a new deal. A previous report had indicated that if a new deal had not been reached in time for the winter meetings, teams were thinking about skipping the winter meetings altogether as the lack of a new CBA agreement was holding up the market.

  • There is currently little trade dialogue between the Marlins and other teams regarding a potential trade involving center fielder Marcell Ozuna, per Joe Frisaro of Ozuna was the subject of several trade rumors last offseason, but the Marlins ended up holding onto him. With a clear hole in the rotation, the Marlins are reportedly open to moving a position player for a high-caliber starting pitcher, but teams appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach to determine when the right time is to make an offer. If the Marlins do move a position player, Ozuna looks to be a good candidate.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates righty Jameson Taillon will elect to not pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada in the spring, per Morosi. With Taillon’s injury history over the past few seasons, it doesn't come as a surprise that he would elect to skip the WBC in order to focus on a normal offseason workout routine.

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