<span class="vcard">D.J. Short</span>

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Jerry Seinfeld looks on during Game Four of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field on October 31, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Jerry Seinfeld is happy that Yoenis Cespedes is back with the Mets

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After the Mets acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers last July, there was a natural connection with comedian and longtime Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld, who greeted the move with the line, “Cespedes for the rest of us.” The “Seinfeld” connections continued from there, as Cespedes’ power exploits were described as “feats of strength” by Mets television broadcaster Gary Cohen.

While reports linked the free agent slugger to the Nationals this week, the Mets pulled off a “Cespedes miracle” late last night by reportedly bringing him back on a three-year, $75 million contract. As we saw on Twitter, the move is Seinfeld-approved:

His second tweet is a callback to the explanation of the origin of Festivus. Well played.

By the way, after hearing about Cespedes’ Lamborghini Aventador that literally spits fire, maybe it’s time for him to be a special guest on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Just a thought, Jerry.

Rangers, Adrian Beltre have had preliminary extension talks

Adrian Beltre
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Adrian Beltre is entering the final year of his contract with the Rangers, but T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the two sides have had at least preliminary talks about an extension.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels confirmed back in December that the club was interested in getting a deal done. It sounds like the feeling is mutual.

“Last year was a good turnaround from the year before,” Beltre said. “I want to be on a team that wants to win. That’s No. 1, but like I said, there is no reason for me to believe they don’t want to win. [Daniels] did what he promised in keeping the team around to win. Right now I’m confident with the way everything is going, there is no reason why I don’t want to stay here.”

Beltre turns 37 in April, so perhaps a two-year deal would be enough to make everyone happy. It’s worth noting that his agent is Scott Boras, so maybe it won’t be that simple, but motivations could be different at this point in his career.

Beltre was bothered by a thumb injury for most of last season and required surgery after the playoffs, but he said Friday that he’s feeling good. He’ll go into 2016 just 233 hits shy of joining the 3,000-hit club. If he can stay healthy, he should make it there at some point during 2017, whether it’s with the Rangers or elsewhere.

Mets face big expectations after bringing back Yoenis Cespedes

New York Mets' Yoenis Cespedes waits to hit during batting practice before Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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On the heels of a surprise World Series appearance, the biggest fear among Mets fans was that the team was going to squander their window to win with their brilliant, young, cost-controlled starting rotation. Rather than shop at the top of the free agent market this winter for a player like Jason Heyward, the Mets made more under-the-radar moves by acquiring Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alejandro De Aza, and Antonio Bastardo while bringing back Bartolo Colon and Jerry Blevins. This brought all the usual questions about the Wilpons’ finances and if they were using the money earned from the team’s postseason run to pay down debts.

Things got ugly with the fanbase this week, especially with increased chatter that Yoenis Cespedes was negotiating with the Nationals. It took a perfect storm of factors and some patience on the part of Mets GM Sandy Alderson and company, but we got our answer late Friday night, as the club has reportedly brought back Cespedes on a three-year, $75 million contract.

With one bold move, the Mets now find themselves as the presumed favorites in the National League East. Cespedes is admittedly a bit of an imperfect fit in the outfield, which was no doubt one of the reasons why the Mets were reluctant to give him a long-term deal. He’ll now be asked to play center field on most days, though it’s possible the Mets will use the same arrangement they did down the stretch last year, with Cespedes in left field against left-handed starters and Juan Lagares in center with young Michael Conforto on the bench.

Defensive issues aside, there’s no question that the lineup looks a lot better than it did yesterday. Remember, the Mets’ led the National League in runs after acquiring Cespedes last season. They have at least held serve after swapping Daniel Murphy out for Walker and could have an upgrade with Cabrera over the combination of Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada at shortstop. This lineup without Cespedes was always a bit of a gamble, as they were counting David Wright and Travis d'Arnaud to stay healthy while putting a lot on the shoulders of Conforto for his first full season in the majors. Those questions are still present, but retaining Cespedes is quite the hedge against those situations. Sure, he’s probably not going to be the player he was during his insane six-week stretch from August through mid-September last season, but he’s a proven middle-of-the-order bat.

This was also a balance of power-type move, as we’d likely be talking about the Nationals as favorites if Cespedes had landed in D.C. They gave it their best shot, reportedly offering a contract in the range of five years and $100 million with a bunch of deferred money. Their pursuit scared the pants off many Mets fans, but it served an important purpose in the end, no doubt motivating New York’s front-office to get a deal done. As for the Nationals, they have now lost out on all of their major targets this winter, a list which also included Heyward and Ben Zobrist. They can’t be underestimated with the talent that they have, but watching Cespedes return to their division rival stings.

Cespedes is leaving money on the table here in theory, but he’s still getting paid quite well. If he opts out of the deal after one year, his $27.5 million salary will be the second-highest AAV (average annual value) ever for a position player. Miguel Cabrera ($31 million) holds the record in his current deal with the Tigers. Cespedes will also have the chance to cash in again as part of a weak free agent class next winter. However, there’s no question that the accepted perception will be that he turned down more money to stay. Massive ovations from the Citi Field crowd are in his future.

The Mets’ dramatic turnaround last season sneaked up on a lot of people, probably even themselves. But that’s not their identity anymore. With Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz leading the way in their rotation, this team is built to win right now. How they’ll perform with this new identity of “favorite” will be interesting to watch. While we’re on the topic of new identities, you have to give ownership credit for going all in for 2016. After a handful of years of a payroll wildly out of line with the major market they play in, the Mets project to have a payroll around $140 million this season. It’s a new world in Queens.

Report: Yoenis Cespedes would prefer to stay with Mets

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The Yoenis Cespedes saga rages on.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Nationals are “pressing” to get a deal done with Cespedes and are willing to offer somewhere around five years and $100 million. Meanwhile, the division-rival Mets reportedly won’t go beyond three years and have yet to make an official offer.

Cespedes potentially landing in D.C. is the worst-case scenario for Mets fans, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that there might be some hope yet:

According to two sources with knowledge of his thinking, he prefers to stay with the Mets.

The lead agent for Cespedes, CAA’s Brodie Van Wagenen, remains in touch with the Mets, and the two sides are scheduled to speak again on Friday, sources said.

The Mets have made it clear that they have no interest in doing a long-term deal for Cespedes. In fact, Rosenthal hears that the club is waiting to hear from Van Wagenen that Cespedes is willing to accept a deal of three years or fewer before even opening official negotiations. Would Cespedes’ desire to stay in New York be enough to pass up a larger guarantee from the Nationals?

As I said on Twitter earlier today, I don’t doubt that that talks between the Nationals and Cespedes are serious, but if there was any way to potentially force the Mets to act, this could be it. The fan response is already overwhelming and Cespedes hasn’t signed with anyone yet. From the opposite side, you have to wonder how much of this “Cespedes prefers Mets” angle is strategic. This could be an effort to try to squeeze more money out of the Nationals. Playing these two NL East clubs off each other could make this mighty interesting.

Brewers, Angels, Rangers, Cubs in the mix for Austin Jackson

Chicago Cubs' Austin Jackson rounds third on a three-run home run off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher John Lamb in the third inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Hey, remember Austin Jackson? He’s a free agent, yet we haven’t heard a peep about him for the entire offseason. Now that most of the significant names are off the board, it sounds like things could finally be coming together for him.

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Brewers, Angels, and Rangers have all “kicked the tires” on the free agent outfielder. Meanwhile, the Cubs could be open to a reunion at the “right price.”

Jackson, who turns 29 next month, batted .267/.311/.385 with nine home runs, 48 RBI, and 17 stolen bases over 136 games between the Mariners and Cubs. While he could still end up with a starting job somewhere, perhaps with a team like the Brewers, he might be best-suited for part-time duties against left-handed pitching.