In the worst kept secret since word leaked out that Donald Trump might be something of a misogynist, Yoenis Cespedes has officially opted out of the final two years of his Mets contract.
This was expected the day Cespedes signed the deal last winter. It was always pretty much a one-year deal, protecting Cespedes in the event he had a major injury or simply lost his skills. Neither of those things happened, so now Cespedes is back on the open market, hoping for the riches that evaded him last year (if you call a $110 million offer from the Nationals something short of riches).
Cespedes is reportedly seeking a five-year contract at upwards of $30 million per year. It is highly unlikely the Mets will venture into that territory, both in years and dollars. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports the Mets are “leery” of doing a lengthy deal with Cespedes because they are “concerned about what type of work ethic they will get once he has a long-term, guaranteed pact.”
That is utter nonsense. While Cespedes does on occasion exhibit a frustrating lack of effort, he has shown that he can turn it on when it matters. And the lack of hustle is more the exception than the rule. Certainly you would hope for maximum effort 100% of the time, but Cespedes has proven that his multitude of plusses far outweigh the infrequent minuses. He is an exciting, enigmatic athlete, and with those types of players, you have to take the good with the bad.
There really is no reason the Mets cannot make a mega-offer to Cespedes. They are in the world’s biggest market, and now that they are winning, the fans are showing up and revenue is rising. This is what we were promised, right — if we show up, they’ll spend?
I would be comfortable going five years with Yoenis Cespedes. He would turn 35 years old as the contract expires, and that is the age when a player historically declines. I would prefer closer to $25 million per year than $30 million, and I suspect the Mets could get him for that amount. By all accounts, he enjoys playing in New York, and he already turned down $110 million and took $27.5 million to stay in New York. So it appears he is not all about the money. Would he turn down $150 million elsewhere to take $125 million and get to play in the city of his choice? I think he might.
Losing Yoenis Cespedes would not be a death blow to the Mets chances in 2017, but it would certainly diminish the team if he does not return. Plus, it will be a little less fun at Citi Field without him.