Loser #1: Washington Nationals
Nobody wants the Washington Nationals' money anymore. At least it appears that way.
Cespedes is just the latest free agent who decided not to take additional money to play for the Nationals. Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Darren O'Day reportedly all did the same.
The Nationals were able to sign former Mets infielder Daniel Murphy earlier this off-season, but the organization was not able to land Cespedes, another Met it sought to add to its roster. For Washington, the Cespedes situation could be personal.
Washington reportedly offered Cespedes a five-year deal worth more than $100 million. The Nationals' proposal also included an opt-out after two seasons. For both sides, it seemed like a reasonable deal. Cespedes just wanted to play for the Mets and he took less money in order to make that happen.
While Cespedes would have been an upgrade for the Nationals, at some point the club needs to realize it did not necessarily need Cespedes on its roster. Ben Revere was recently acquired to play center field and lead off. Bryce Harper is not going anywhere in right field. Jayson Werth will likely still be valuable in left. Add Michael Taylor to the mix and you already have a crowded outfield situation without Cespedes being discussed.
Multiple teams were interested in Cespedes, but some of those organizations still need to add a third outfielder. The Nationals don't.
There is a larger theme here beyond the Nationals losing out on another top free agent. Players aren't choosing Washington even though they could get paid more. That alone speaks volumes.
Loser #2: Chicago White Sox
Chicago, like New York, did not change its offer. It was a three-year deal all along. But when the team you want to play for gives you the same deal as another team you might not be as interested in, you pick the team you want. Hence, Cespedes picked the Mets.
At one point, Cespedes, Alex Gordon and Justin Upton were on the White Sox's radar. After missing out on Gordon and most recently Upton, some felt Chicago's pursuit of Cespedes would become more aggressive. That did not appear to be the case.
Now that Cespedes is no longer a realistic option, the White Sox should turn their attention to signing Dexter Fowler. Fowler received and subsequently rejected a qualifying offer from the Cubs, but Chicago's first round pick is protected.
With Cespedes off the market, Fowler could be overpaid. The White Sox are not known for overpaying big name free agents. But at this point in the off-season, Fowler is not a big name and overpaying is uncommon.
Unlike the Nationals, the White Sox truly need another outfielder. That outfielder could and should be Fowler. But it also could have been Cespedes.
Loser #3: Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore did not receive much offense from its corner outfielders in 2015, but the organization decided to re-sign another top free agent instead.
Once Chris Davis was re-signed, it became clear the Orioles would no longer have interest in adding Cespedes. But adding both might have proven to be beneficial for Baltimore's offense.
Davis gives the Orioles a top bat in the middle of the order, but the organization still should have pursued Cespedes.
They were not interested for long, but the Orioles should have still considered Cespedes. They quickly ended their pursuit and lost as a result.