Yoenis Cespedes took the New York Mets on a thrilling, three-month ride last season that ended with a trip to the World Series.
The price for a reprise of that role, apparently, is too expensive for the NL champions.
"It's unlikely right now that he ends up a Met," assistant general manager John Ricco said Sunday. "Right now, I still think he's looking at a deal that would be north of what we would consider."
Ricco is stepping in for his boss, general manager Sandy Alderson, who is receiving treatment for cancer and is not at the winter meetings that begin Monday at the mammoth Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
A July 31 trade-deadline acquisition from Detroit, Cespedes sparked one of the worst offenses in the major leagues with a power display in Queens not seen in years, leading New York to its first World Series appearance since 2000.
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In 57 games, the outfielder hit .287 with 17 homers, 44 RBIs and a .604 slugging percentage. He finished 13th in NL MVP voting even though he played the bulk of the season for the Detroit Tigers. His performance could earn him a deal in excess of $100 million.
With second baseman Daniel Murphy a free agent, too, New York is keying on free-agent second baseman-outfielder Ben Zobrist after he helped the Kansas City Royals beat the Mets in five games in the Fall Classic.
New York is also looking to replace some of Cespedes' production, although Ricco said the Mets will not be shopping in the upper echelon of available outfielders like Jason Heyward or Justin Upton.
The Mets are expecting to start talented youngster Michael Conforto, who will turn 23 in March, in left field, and Curtis Granderson in right. Juan Lagares, the 2014 Gold Glove winner who played hurt much of this year, should see plenty of time in center field, but New York would like a bigger bat to complement the defensive specialist.
"Those everyday guys aren't as attractive to us," Ricco said.