“Growing sense” Cespedes will get five-year deal

Though the Mets are still “optimistic” about their ability to re-sign outfielder Yoenis Cespedes with a four-year deal, there’s a “growing sense” that Cespedes will be able to command a five-year contract elsewhere, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Per anonymous industry sourcing, the Mets are interested in four years for $100 -110 million. But if it’s possible that Cespedes could grab a five-year deal for $130 million or thereabouts—which, according to Puma, it is—then staying in Queens is less likely.

Potential suitors are listed as the Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and perhaps the Yankees. Cespedes, 31, enjoyed a power surge last year (31 home runs with a .326 TAv) that helped him post the highest WARP of his career (5.3). He opted out of the two years and $47.5 million remaining on his contract in order to become a free agent, and he reportedly is hoping to find his new home by the end of next month’s winter meetings. As for potential Cespedes replacements the Mets might be able to find on the market—there really aren’t any. Dexter Fowler and Jose Bautista are the closest approximations around.

Blue Jays still trying to keep Encarnacion

In this space Monday, Ashley Varela rounded up the rumor that Toronto was still interested in re-signing free agent Jose Bautista, despite the fact that the team already scooped up designated hitter Kendrys Morales. Now, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports is reporting that the Blue Jays are also still interested in re-signing their other recently departed free agent slugger, Edwin Encarnacion. The team offered him $80 million for four years, according to Heyman, and the deal is reportedly still on the table. Of course, they aren’t the only team interested—with the Rangers, Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees all named as other clubs in the mix.

Offseason reports have alternately had the Blue Jays’ interest leaning primarily toward Encarnacion, then toward Bautista, and now seemingly back again. With the Morales signing earlier this month, a reunion with both of them would be illogical and costly, but a reunion with one is apparently not just a possibility but an active pursuit. Encarnacion, 33, had a strong walk year highlighted by 42 home runs, while Bautista, 36, is coming off the worst season of his time in Toronto.

Lockout possible if new CBA can't be reached by December 1

Now for a rumor not from a hot stove, but instead a cold negotiating table. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has reported that MLB owners will consider voting to lock the players out if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by the beginning of December. With the winter meetings scheduled to begin December 4, this would give us a bizarrely quiet start to the month—no free agent signings, no trades, no activity of any kind involving major-league players.

Owners are frustrated with how slowly the players’ union has engaged in discussions so far, per Rosenthal’s reporting, with “a number of significant issues” still to be addressed. Key topics in the negotiations so far have included the possibility of an international draft, the Joint Drug Agreement, the competitive-balance tax, and direct draft-pick compensation in free agency. Earlier in the winter’s discussions, the owners floated a proposal to resolve two of the biggest issues in one move—ending direct draft-pick compensation as it currently exists with the qualifying offer in exchange for the establishment of an international draft.

The union has held firmly against such a draft, however, noting that foreign amateur players typically do not have the same opportunities and advantages as their American counterparts. With more than a week left, there’s still time to resolve things. But the players aren’t backing down: “We are not afraid of a lockout,” one told Rosenthal.

(For a full look at what the CBA entails, Sam Miller did a very thorough reading last winter. Discussion of players’ van parking spaces included.)

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