Yoenis Cespedes insists Nationals were never serious winter threat to Mets

NEW YORK -- Just how close did Yoenis Cespedes come to accepting a reported five-year offer from the Washington Nationals during the offseason? Not that close, the outfielder insisted on the eve of the first 2016 meeting between the New York Mets and Nats.

Cespedes signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Mets that includes an opt-out after this season. He is earning $27.5 million in 2016.

“I was never close to signing with the Nationals,” Cespedes said through an interpreter. “From the start I was pushing my agent because I wanted to come back to the Mets.”

Cespedes has cited his positive experience playing with the Mets from Aug. 1 onward last season as a compelling reason to re-sign with the club.

The Mets and Nationals are due to have their first meeting this season on Tuesday at Citi Field, with Noah Syndergaard and Max Scherzer set to square off in a marquee pitching matchup.

“The Nationals are playing well,” Cespedes said. “They’re our rivals. The key is to just go out and let the work speak for itself.”