Whether Cespedes signs at the Meetings or not, his mere presence on the open market will make him the star of the week.

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“He wants to be back. I think we’d like to have him back,” New York general manager Sandy Alderson said recently on WOR radio. “But there are certain limits that every team faces and certain realities that every player has to take into account. Some of them are financial. Some are not. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

With the Winter Meetings less than a week away, it seems the Mets are planting most of their hopes on Cespedes’ shoulders. No singular player has done as much to transform the franchise in recent times than Cespedes, who hit .282 with 48 home runs over his first 189 games with the Mets. His breakout following New York’s July 2015 trade for him resulted in a three-year, $75 million contract last winter from the Mets, who subsequently watched him opt out of the final two seasons and $47.5 million of that deal.

That made Cespedes a free agent, setting up next week’s drama. It also generated a crowded group of suitors that could include the Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Giants, Blue Jays, Orioles and others.

Still, Alderson said, “I think we’re … in a better position than we were last year because Yoenis has been with us now for a little less than a year and a half, and he’s much more familiar with the organization and his teammates and the city than he was before. And I think by all indications, he’s happy with all three of those elements and would like to come back.”

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While the Mets and other clubs negotiate with Cespedes, waiting for him to decide on a deal that could escalate to nine figures, Alderson will use the Winter Meetings to explore other pursuits, as well. Most notably, New York is interested in adding at least one Major League veteran to its bullpen, particularly with closer Jeurys Familia facing litigation and a possible domestic violence suspension.

The Mets may also poke around to see if any team is interested in acquiring Jay Bruce, a corner outfielder whose salary and defensive limitations make him a tough sell on the same roster as Cespedes. And they will look for other, creative ways to improve their roster; even if Cespedes does return to New York, for example, the Mets don’t have a strong in-house solution in center field.

But those are mere sideshows compared to Cespedes, whose decision will make or break the Mets’ Winter Meetings. Many eyes will be on New York’s contingent as it shuffles through the Gaylord lobby. Many whispers will follow Cespedes’ agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, as he bounces from suite to suite.

What Cespedes chooses will color the Mets’ entire offseason, and everyone at the Winter Meetings will be sure to know it.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Mets News / Cespedes headlines Mets’ list at Meetings