Cespedes is expected to opt out of the last two years of his deal with the Mets
Ordinarily, when people say a person or entity needs to do everything humanly possible to prevent something from happening, it’s hysterical hyperbole. In the case of the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes, it isn’t.
So here it goes: the Mets need to do everything humanly possible to keep Yoenis Cespedes from leaving via free agency this offseason.
In the alternative universe where some crazy team offers Cespedes a deal of seven or more years (that’s not going to happen), the Mets are off the hook. But in the actual universe where that won’t happen, they need to pony up.
For Cespedes, with the Mets (as far as we know) not having engaged his agents in extension talks during the season, it makes all the sense in the world for him to opt out.
His current deal is worth $50 million over two years. And while he loves it in New York, loves his teammates, and loves the fans, he’s worth way more than that. And the Mets need to pony up.
Engaging Cespedes in extension talks during the season — perhaps offering an additional two or three years at $25 million annually — would’ve made sense. Perhaps they did engage and his agents shot it down. Or perhaps the Mets for some reason thought it was wise to sit tight.
No matter what happened, the only thing that matters is making sure Cespedes goes nowhere.
Here are Cespedes’ numbers since joining the Mets last Aug. 1:
.282/.348/.554 with 48 home runs, 39 doubles, and 130 RBI in 189 games.
Here’s a list of the players about to hit the free agent market who can replicate what Cespedes provides offensively:
Here’s a list of the players the Mets have in-house who can replicate what Cespedes provides offensively:
No, I didn’t forget to list the players. Those spaces are intentionally blank.
There’s also the ‘star’ factor that can often be overrated and is not really tangible. But whatever ‘it’ is, Cespedes has.
In less than a year and a half as a Met, he has become beloved by the fan base. And he’s now referred to as ‘The Lion King,’ with fans dressing up as Simba from the film and bringing little Simba dolls to games.
That makes Cespedes extra special, but his bat is what makes him a must-keep.
And the Mets letting him leave, while being an impossibly stupid baseball decision, would also infuriate the fan base.
We’ve seen what the Mets’ offense is like when Cespedes isn’t in the lineup. We don’t want to see that again, and the team can’t afford to play around with this negotiation.
The Mets made an incredible run in 2015 and persevered in 2016 through a rash of injuries that was almost impossible to comprehend.
With Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz hopefully back and at full strength in 2017, the Mets should be set up as well as any team to win the World Series that has eluded them the last two years. But they’re not going to be set up for that if they let Cespedes go.
So get his agents on the phone, get Cespedes on the phone, and get it done. Offer an additional three years and $75 million. If someone exceeds that price, offer four years and $100 million.
Is it ideal to potentially have Cespedes under contract through his age-36 season? No. But this is what it takes to retain stars. Especially ones who can transform a franchise.
The Mets need to treat this like they treated the Mike Piazza negotiations after the 1998 season, because this is the most important signing they’ve had to make since. Failing here is not an option.