O's front-runners for Cespedes; Mets a factor

Baltimore appears ready to move on from pursuit of Davis

O's front-runners for Cespedes; Mets a factor

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles seem ready to move on from Chris Davis, making a contract offer to free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Though he's garnered interest from several clubs, the Orioles are believed to be the front-runners for Cespedes.

The proposed deal is believed to be in the five-year, $90 million range and could include an option year, MLB.com has learned. The club has not confirmed that it has made an offer.

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported that Cespedes has been looking for a 6-year deal with an average value of $22 million. While several teams are reportedly interested in Cespedes, this was the first news of a deal on the table for the outfielder this offseason. 

A source told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that Cespedes has weighed the long-term offer from the Orioles against a return to the Mets on a one-year deal -- for whom he starred after being acquired at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- and hitting the market again next winter. While an offer from the Mets is not currently on the table, it appears Cespedes' camp believes a short-term deal would be available were he to pursue one with New York.

Next winter's free-agent class is not particularly deep, particularly among outfielders, with Carlos Gomez and Jose Bautista (who turns 37 next October) the biggest potential names on the market. Signing a one-year deal could allow Cespedes to re-enter the market in a more advantageous position than he did this winter, when he was competing with the likes of Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon and Justin Upton on the open market.

Cespedes is intrigued by the idea of playing at hitter-friendly Camden Yards and was at least considering the O's proposed offer as of Friday afternoon. 

While landing Cespedes as a middle-of-the-order bat would be a serious shift away from trying to re-sign Davis, it's not entirely surprising, as MLB.com reported Baltimore had shown interest in Cespedes earlier this offseason. The Orioles' offer to Davis, a seven-year deal worth approximately $154 million, was turned down by him and his agent, Scott Boras. Davis is reportedly seeking $200 million, but there have been no other serious suitors to emerge for him, and the O's have been considering moving on since December's Winter Meetings.

Hot Stove Tracker

Manager Buck Showalter showed some frustration with the ongoing situation on Wednesday, while speaking at a leadership conference at SECU Arena at Towson University.

"How much is enough?" Showalter said. "I walked by Chris 10 times last year, I said, 'Chris, when you walk into a Target store, can you buy anything you want?' He said, 'Yeah.'

"I love Chris. He's going to pay the bills. He lives 20 minutes from me in Dallas. But if we sit around wringing our hands saying the sky is going to fall if that deal doesn't happen, shame on us."

While the Orioles have been linked to other outfielders this offseason, this is the first time there has been serious interest shown in anyone outside of Davis. The 30-year-old Cespedes batted .291/.328/.542 last season, splitting time between the Tigers and Mets. His torrid finish to the season -- he posted a second-half OPS of .930 -- played a critical role in the Mets' run to the National League East title and eventually a World Series berth.

2016 Draft order

Unlike Justin Upton, Cespedes' signing is not tied to Draft-pick compensation, making him a more desirable candidate for Baltimore. Upton would require the O's to forfeit their first-round pick, which is currently No. 14 overall, to sign him.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.