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The New York Mets somehow finding a way to bring back outfielder Yoenis Cespedes this past winter was one of the biggest stories of the offseason. After singlehandedly taking the Mets to the playoffs with a spectacular second half, it was assumed Cespedes’ price range on the market would exceed what the Mets were willing to pay. He was more than likely off to join a new club.
In order to bring back Cespedes, the Mets needed to get creative with their deal. To do so, the club offered him a three-year, $75 million. The catch: Cespedes could opt out after just one season.
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Once fans saw that, the writing was pretty much on the wall. Cespedes clearly wanted to remain in New York following a special second half, but wanted to make sure he still had a chance at getting a massive free-agent deal in the near future. He would give the club one more shot at a World Series run in 2016, but the pull of free agency would probably lead to his exit.
That might not be the case. Cespedes told the Bergen Record he won’t opt out of the deal at the end of the season.
But the question remains: Would he actually leave? Speaking through an interpreter, Cespedes stayed on message, saying his focus is on “helping the team win so we can hopefully make it to the playoffs.”
When asked by The Record’s Matt Ehalt if he intended to honor all three years of his current $75 million contract, without opting out, Cespedes flatly said, “Yes.”
So, there you have. Cespedes is going to be a member of the Mets through 2018.End of story. Nothing to see here, right?
Well, it’s not that easy. Cespedes has already somewhat walked back on his initial comments, telling David Lennon of Newsday he intends to stay, but it’s not official just yet.
Cespedes said his intention is to stay but hasn’t made decision. Like when you intend to go out for sushi but switch to italian instead.
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) August 24, 2016
In his current situation, Cespedes has no reason to tell reporters or fans he plans to opt out after the season. He’s currently a member of the Mets, and he should be focused on trying to get the club back into contention. Saying he’s going to leave in late August only brings negative attention to both him and the club.
If he’s really going to stay in New York, that’s admirable. On the market, Cespedes should blow the Mets current offer out of the water. He’s currently experiencing the best offensive season of his career with a .295/.365/.570 slash line, and will be 31 in October.
If Cespedes stays with the Mets, he would make $47.5 million over the next two years. That’s a nice chunk of change, but it doesn’t compare to what he would make on the free-agent market.
You don’t need to look very far to find evidence of that, either. A 31-year-old Alex Gordon received a four-year, $72 million deal just this past offseason. Cespedes will be coming off a much better season, and should easily receive more money and more guaranteed years if he opts out of his current contract in a few months.
For now, we’re going to chalk this up to Cespedes saying the right thing. In reality, he has every incentive to join the free-agent market again this offseason. While staying with New York would be a tremendous story, Mets fans shouldn’t get too excited about that idea. Cespedes might be feeding into that narrative at the moment, but that’s because it’s the only option he has right now.
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