One of the worst kept secrets in the baseball world came to fruition yesterday as Yoenis Cespedes opted out of the final two years of his three-year, $75 million contract.
Cespedes is leaving $47.5 million on the table.
Unlike last year, however, where the Mets waited until January to re-sign their 31 year-old outfielder, this winter will probably be different as the organization seems to be very interested in bringing back their slugger. However, general manager Sandy Alderson does not like to hand out very long term contracts, so if Cespedes comes back it will be on a four-year or at most five-year deal, and that may be a stretch.
Now understand, there will be competition for Cespedes’s services. Sources have told to NY Sports Day’s Rich Mancuso, the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants are both interested in the outfielder, however, the Washington Nationals do not seems to be interested.
The Yankees, though, seem to be more interested in bringing back Cuban closer Aroldis Chapman than going after the Mets Cuban slugger, according to NY Sports Day’s Wallace Matthews.
So with all that said, it will be an interesting off-season.
Already, the Mets are making contingency plans if Cespedes bolts. They picked up the $13 million option on outfielder Jay Bruce and reportedly plan on giving a qualifying offer to free agent Neil Walker.
But losing Cespedes will leave a giant hole for the Mets to fill. Last season, he hit .280 with 31 homers and 86 RBI, despite missing significant time to a pulled quad that he suffered early in the season.
And because of that injury this most-telling stat comes to light. Since he debuted on Aug. 1 2015, with Cespedes, the Mets were 106-74 and without him there were 18-23. So you can see why the Mets want to keep this guy.
Cespedes, though, comes with baggage. His is not a perfect player and sometimes has a mental gaff of two in the outfield. He doesn’t run bases out at times and that golf addiction sometimes interferes with his baseball job. But the Mets tend to overlook those issues because the outfielder was so productive.
But expect a quick resolution this season, probably by the Winter Meetings next month. The Mets moves this off-season are predicated on if they sign Cespedes or not and they can’t afford to wait until mid-January to get their best offensive player signed.
If they do re-sign Cespedes, the Mets will probably look to trade Bruce or Curtis Granderson, while their interest in Neil Walker may die down.
So there will be a lot to digest over the next few weeks. It all begins Monday with the General Manager Meetings in Arizona.