Late in the 2015 season, the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes re-negotiated the part in the star outfielder’s contract to eliminate the clause stating his current team had five days following the World Series to retain him, otherwise he would have to be released, thus disqualifying that team from signing him until the following May 15.
Certainly, that could be interpreted as the Mets not wanting to completely shut the door on re-signing their transformational pickup from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. But it also means Cespedes and his agents didn’t want to eliminate a team from contending for his services, especially his current team which was ultimately World Series bound this past season.
But Cespedes made it clear at that time he wanted to sign no less than a six-year contract in his first winter as a free agent. As has seemingly been the case with most of his suitors so far this winter, that has deterred the Mets from a pursuit of the now free agent outfielder.
Assistant GM John Ricco has publicly labeled a reunion with Cespedes as “unlikely” given his current demands.
Ideally, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets would like to retain Cespedes on a 2-3 year deal.
But even as the 30-year-old outfielder’s market has been slow to develop, it seems highly unlikely he would sign for such a deal, regardless of the money offered.
From the player’s perspective, that’s understandable. It’s difficult to hit the open market as a 32 or 33-year-old and achieve the security they seek, thanks to their next deal coming in their post-prime years.
But with the Mets gaining significant additional financial flexibility after Michael Cuddyer announced his retirement, the Mets can’t simply close the door on Cespedes. Despite his flaws and struggles in the postseason (presumably due to a hand and shoulder injury), he’s proven difference maker and a success story in New York. His skill set and ability to carry an offense with his power and production have gone unmatched since the days of Mike Piazza.
The front office knows that.
Certainly, a six-year deal would be concerning for the Mets, or any club for that matter. Cespedes’ game – with his long swing and lack of plate discipline – can be prone to rapid aging in this sport, and paying a player like this upwards of $100 million in his post-prime years is a big gamble to take.
But perhaps the two sides can eventually come to a compromise on a front-loaded deal and an opt-out clause after two or three years. That would give the player an opportunity to test the market if he’s coming off a good run, and the Mets could potentially wash their hands of the contract under the terms they seek while reaping the rewards of a dynamic player in their window of opportunity.
Of course, that’s merely speculation right now, and by far a guarantee from happening.
But if Cespedes’ market doesn’t develop as he originally anticipated it would, perhaps this would be an agreeable arrangement for him.
Cespedes has been connected to the Tigers and Angels so far this off-season.
Cespedes hit .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs and 44 RBI in 57 games with the Mets in 2015. He went 12-for-54 with a double, two home runs and eight RBI in 14 postseason games in 2015.