The most prominent remaining free agent, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, will return to the New York Mets after agreeing to a three-year, $75 million deal with the team, according to numerous media reports.
So full Cespedes deal with #Mets, per sources: Three years, $75M, full no-trade clause, opt-out after one year. Pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2016
That opt-out after the first year, per Rosenthal’s report, is a huge key to this contract. The 30-year-old Cuban slugger was reportedly mulling over a larger offer from the division rival Washington Nationals; who offered five years, 100+ million dollars. However, Cespedes’ love for New York fueled his return to the Amazin’s.
If Cespedes opt-outs after the first year, he will make $27.5 million in 2016, the second highest AAV ever for a position player, per Rosenthal.
After a midseason trade from the Detroit Tigers to the Mets, Cespedes helped the team reach its first World Series since 2000. In 57 games with the Mets, Cespedes hit.287 with 17 HR and 44 RBI, providing an instant spark to a laboring offense. While he wasn’t much of a factor in the postseason — hitting a mere.222 between all three rounds — Cespedes made it clear to ESPN he’s interested in returning to the Mets.
“This is something I can’t control. I don’t know what the front office is thinking about. But with what I see so far, I would love for everything to work out and stay as a Met for a long, long time because I like the atmosphere.”
Coming off the best full season of his career — hitting.291 with 35 HR and 105 RBI between the Tigers and Mets — Cespedes seemed to be headed toward a megadeal this offseason. However, being in the same free agent market with the likes of Justin Upton, Chris Davis, and Alex Gordon stifled Cespedes’ market.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Cespedes would get six years, $140 million this offseason. Cespedes confirmed his desire to land a six-year deal this offseason to Marly Rivera of ESPN Deportes last season.
While all three aforementioned hitters got their big money deals, Cespedes’ market wasn’t doing as well. There were teams — such as the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles — interested in Cespedes on short-term deals. The Los Angeles Angels were viewed as another potential destination.
None of those teams were appealing to Cespedes as he seemingly wanted to find a way to return to New York, even if it wasn’t the Mets. A report from the NY Daily News on Friday said that Cespedes’ agents reached out to the Yankees to gauge their interest. The Bombers obviously weren’t an ideal fit given their core of outfielders.
Cespedes is also far from a perfect fit for the Mets. With Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson plugged in the corner outfield slots, the 2015 AL Gold Glove award winner Cespedes will have to play centerfield. During his brief stint as a center fielder in the MLB, Cespedes owns a -17.6 UZR/150 and -17 Defensive Runs Saved, via FanGraphs.
The Mets still have defensive stud Juan Lagares and recently signed Alejandro De Aza for the outfield in 2016. It’s possible the Mets could deal Lagares, but the 2014 NL Gold Glove winner could provide the team with a solid right-handed bat that could spell Curtis Granderson.
Cespedes has swatted 106 HR in his career with the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Tigers, and Mets. But his.319 on-base percentage is seen as a cause for concern by some.
Despite his shortcomings as an on-base threat and center fielder, Cespedes’ offensive prowess is why the Mets re-signed him. With him back in the fold, the Mets’ lineup for 2016 becomes a formidable one.
- Curtis Granderson, RF
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Yoenis Cespedes, CF
- Lucas Duda, 1B
- David Wright, 3B
- Michael Conforto, LF
- Travis d’Arnaud, C
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
[Featured Photo by Elsa/Getty Images]