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Mets don't know if Yoenis Cespedes will play in 2020, Brodie Van Wagenen says

Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets looks on from

Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets looks on from the dugout during a game against the Blue Jays at Citi Field on May 15, 2018. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Mets don’t know if Yoenis Cespedes will play in 2020, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Monday.

Cespedes, 34, hasn’t played since July 2018 after surgery on both heels last year and then right ankle fractures that required surgery in May. The Mets said he suffered the latter injury during a fall on his ranch in Florida.

Van Wagenen said Cespedes is “rehabbing.”

“I don’t have enough information to predict when he’s going to be back,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ll obviously evaluate his health and performance as we get closer to spring training.

“You have to be open-minded to everything in the offseason. We went into last year with a little bit of uncertainty on the same level with Ces. We’ll continue to make sure we have depth options and impact players around the diamond.”

That is a more ominous approach than the one the Mets took at this time last year, when they said they expected Cespedes back in the second half of 2019.

Cespedes was the Mets’ highest-paid player in 2019, earning $29 million. He is poised to be their highest-paid player again in 2020, earning $29.5 million in the final year of his four-year contract. The Mets have an insurance policy on Cespedes’ deal that gives them most of that money back if he is hurt.

GM keeps options open

Do the Mets plan to pursue any of baseball’s best free agents, such as righthander Gerrit Cole or third baseman Anthony Rendon?

“We’re going to be creative with the roster to try to find the right players,” Van Wagenen said.

He noted that the Mets have Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis and Jed Lowrie, all of whom can play third base, but insisted that the Mets will “consider a variety of different things” in configuring their roster.

Van Wagenen was asked again, specifically: Do the Mets have the capability of adding a top-flight free agent without removing some of the salaries already on the books?

“We’re going to explore all options with the roster,” he said. “Once we find the right fit, we’ll try to make that a reality.”

Wheeler still in play

The Mets made Zack Wheeler a qualifying offer as free agency officially began Monday.

If Wheeler accepts, he will have a one-year contract for $17.8 million for 2020.

If Wheeler does not accept — which is expected — the Mets will receive an extra 2020 draft pick from the team that signs him.

Van Wagenen said the Mets are open to re-signing Wheeler even if he turns down the qualifying offer.

“We’ll continue to have dialogue with him, as we already have so far,” Van Wagenen said.

Extra bases

Van Wagenen addressed but did not explain the organization’s decision to remove Edgardo Alfonzo from his post as manager of short-season Class A Brooklyn. “Our decision not to bring him back to Brooklyn was a player development decision,” Van Wagenen said. “We want to keep ourselves on a path of putting our players in the best situation.” Alfonzo remains with the Mets in a team ambassador role . . . Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are preparing this offseason for the possibility that they will be starting pitchers next year, Van Wagenen said . . . The Mets added lefthanded reliever Blake Taylor, who otherwise would have become a minor-league free agent, to the 40-man roster Monday. They also claimed lefthander Stephen Gonsalves — a former top-100 prospect who missed most of 2019 because of injuries — off waivers from the Twins.

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