When the New York Mets were finally able to strike a deal with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes prior to the 2016 MLB season, Mets fans, players, and front office folk alike were absolutely elated.
However, when it was revealed that Cespedes’ three-year deal included an opt out after the 2016 season, we all knew that he would likely exercise it, and Mets GM Sandy Alderson would be forced to join Yoenis’ agent at the bargaining table again this fall.
Making the playoffs was a remarkable achievement for the Mets in 2016, as multiple season-ending injuries should have rendered New York a.500 team at best.
But when Cespedes signed, expectations were much higher. And the possibility of losing him after one season didn’t seem so bad considering many believed the Mets would ultimately make another World Series run in 2016 following their surprise appearance in 2015.
Losing Yoenis without winning a ring wasn’t in New York’s plans, but could very well come to fruition.
However, all hope isn’t lost, as Cespedes has been open about his love for New York since he arrived from Detroit. He told ESPN as much last fall.
“I loved my experience with the Mets last season,” Cespedes said in a statement released by the team. “In a short period of time, my teammates and the fans made New York feel like home, and I truly felt embraced by the entire organization. As I entered free agency, I couldn’t deny the pull to come back and finish what we had started last year. I am excited to finally announce that next season I am coming back to join the New York Mets once again.”
But after another phenomenal season in which he unsurprisingly posted a monster stat line (.280, 31 HR, 86 RBI in 132 games), there’s a boatload of money waiting for him on the open market and he’d be absolutely foolish not to entertain outside offers.
According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Cespedes, 30, has been giving mixed signals to those inside the Mets organization since the club lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NL Wild Card game on Wednesday.
“Still, he left the clubhouse, even those he did speak to, in a state of limbo about his and the Mets’ future. The Cuban slugger has until three days after the World Series to exercise the option in his three-year deal with the Mets to walk after this year.”
“You have to believe he will,” one Mets source said Thursday morning of Cespedes opting out. “It makes no financial sense for him not to, but we don’t know. He told some people (in the organization) he loves it here and will definitely be back. He said good bye to some people and told them he won’t be back.”
It’s hard to know exactly what Cespedes will be able to command this offseason, but it’s surely more than the $50 million he has left on his current deal with the Mets. Some feel he will get no less than $100 million, and others believe he could push closer to $200 million.
If you know anything about Sandy Alderson, you know that he is a strong opponent of allocating a tremendous amount of payroll to any one player on his roster. And if you know anything about Mets ownership and the financial woes of Fred and Jeff Wilpon stemming from the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, you know they don’t exactly have an appetite for it either.
When the Mets acquired Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds this summer, the thinking behind the deal was two-fold. For starters, they needed another power bat to pair with Cespedes.
However, Bruce has a club option worth $13 million in his contract for the 2017 season, which means the Mets have an insurance policy that could help soften the blow if they lose Yoenis. This made Bruce far more valuable to New York than most other teams.
Bruce struggled initially with the Mets, but clobbered four home runs in the final week of the season, helping the Mets to the playoffs, and likely increasing the chances of New York picking up the option.
If the Mets don't re-sign Cespedes, the Wilpons should be driven out with pitchforks. It would be the last straw. https://t.co/Qi4e83SWRw— Jordan Zakarin (@jordanzakarin) July 18, 2016
But let’s be honest: The Mets offense wasn’t incredibly impressive even before the ridiculous amount of injuries they suffered.
Losing Cespedes would be devastating for New York in any scenario, and if the Mets want to have a chance against the Washington Nationals in the NL East in 2017, they must bite the bullet and retain their offense’s catalyst under virtually any circumstance.
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