The World Series is still in full swing, but it’s never too early to start thinking about free agency. The first big offseason news dropped Wednesday, as it appears New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract and become a free-agent, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.
Cespedes has reportedly made his decision, but his management team will not announce the move until three days after the World Series, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN. That’s the deadline for Cespedes to opt out of his deal.
The decision to leave early doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Cespedes’ three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets included an opt-out clause after just one year, and many speculated he would only remain with the Mets for just one year.
It was somewhat of a shock when New York found a way to re-sign him last offseason. Cespedes was expected to receive a mega-contract on the market, but chose to return to the Mets after leading the team to the World Series. It was assumed part of the reason they were able to get a deal done was due to the early opt out.
The move made sense for Cespedes. By taking that contract, he could remain with the club for one more shot at a championship, but still hit free agency with a chance to receive a huge deal. Cespedes made $27.5 million with New York in 2016. He’s leaving $47.5 million on the table by opting out of his deal.
He shouldn’t have any problem making all of that back. The 31-year-old outfielder turned in yet another excellent offensive season in which he hit .280/.354/.530, with 31 home runs. He’ll be one of the most coveted players to hit the free-agent market.
According to Rubin, Mets officials expect Cespedes to seek a five-year deal this winter. They are not optimistic about re-signing him this time around.
The team has known this was a possibility for quite some time, which is why they went out and acquired Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline. New York is expected to pick up Bruce’s $13 million option for 2017, according to Rubin.
While the move hurts the Mets, it won’t be a total loss. The team can, and likely will, extend a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer to Cespedes once he officially opts out. Cespedes will almost certainly decline that offer, meaning the Mets will receive a draft pick as compensation should he sign with another team.
They can also re-sign him, of course, though that seems unlikely. That’s precisely what everyone was saying at this time last year, though, so maybe there’s a chance the team can pull off another miracle move in the offseason.
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