The Nationals had reportedly made runs at two other free-agent outfielders who signed elsewhere: Jason Heyward, who went to the Cubs for eight years and $184 million, and Justin Upton, who just joined the Tigers for six years and $132.75 million.
Fox Sports reports that the Nationals have offered Cespedes less than what Upton got in Detroit.
The Nationals' offer to Cespedes is for five years, Fox Sports reported. The Mets, who are also in pursuit of the slugger, are unwilling to go beyond three years, according to Fox Sports.
Cespedes, who batted a combined .291 with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs last season with the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets, is the last big bat on the free-agent market after Chris Davis returned to the Orioles last week and Upton signed this week in Detroit.
Barring a return to New York, when Cespedes does sign, he will be joining his fifth team in the last 18 months. Oakland sent him to Boston at the 2014 trade deadline. The Red Sox traded him to Detroit last offseason, and the Tigers moved him to the Mets at the 2015 trade deadline.
The Nationals made a big, late splash in free agency a year ago when they inked right-hander Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract. Washington currently has a starting outfield of Jayson Werth, Ben Revere and Bryce Harper.