Yoenis Cespedes Trade Rumors: Mets Prefer to Move OF Ahead of Spring Training

Blake SchusterContributor IIIJanuary 21, 2020

FILE - In this July 24, 2018, file photo, New York Mets' Yoenis Cespedes looks on as his team play the San Diego Padres during the first inning of a baseball game in New York. Cespedes' salary for 2019 was cut in half and his pay for 2020 reduced as part of a settlement of a grievance between the injured outfielder and the Mets. He agreed to a $110 million, four-year contract in December 2016 but has not played since July 20, 2018. The outfielder had surgery to remove bone calcification from his right heel on Aug. 2, 2018, and his left that Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The New York Mets have been busy since parting ways with manager Carlos Beltran in the wake of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scheme. 

MLB insider Robert Murray reported on Saturday the Mets were trying to resume trade talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Starling Marte. 

Now, Andy Martino of SNY has reported New York is open to moving outfielder Yoenis Cespedes or second baseman Jed Lowrie, noting the team would like to make such a move happen before spring training but those efforts have "proven difficult." 

A few things would likely complicate any such deal being made at the moment. For starters, Cespedes' playing status is still unknown. The outfielder suffered a season-ending ankle injury while evading a wild boar on his Florida property last May, per Joel Sherman, Ken Davidoff and Mike Puma of the New York Post. That happened while Cespedes was rehabbing from surgery he underwent on both heels during the previous offseason.

At 34 years old, that type of wear and tear isn't too enticing for most clubs looking to make a trade—even with Cespedes' career batting average of .274 with 163 home runs in 826 games. 

Another issue: The Mets still don't have a manager yet, making it hard to assess just what the missing pieces might be for a New York team that finished three games out of the NL's final wild-card spot.

What makes a trade a bit easier is the reduction in salary for Cespedes. After the boar incident, the Mets were able to restructure the outfielder's contract, slicing his base pay in 2020 $29.5 million to just $6 million (increased to $11 million if he starts the season on the roster or heads to the injured list for non-ankle or heel reasons). That certainly makes the 2021 free-agent-to-be a bit more interesting. 

Lowrie is also scheduled to become a free agent in 2021. The Mets currently owe the second-baseman $9 million this season. If that's too much for another team to take on, New York general manager Brodie Van Wagenen only has himself to blame. The GM negotiated that deal two years ago as Lowrie's agent before moving into his current role. Lowrie, 36, played just nine games last season due to various lower-body injuries. 

So far these trade talks are just simple conversations, but it's worth noting which names are being repeated. No question the Mets are ready to move on from Cespedes. Whether or not any team will be willing to take him is a much different issue.