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What if the Mets never re-signed Yoenis Cespedes after 2015 or 2016?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets hits a two run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the seventh inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California. The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets hits a two run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the seventh inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California. The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NY – MAY 01: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on May 1, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Yoenis Cespedes became a free agent twice after playing for the New York Mets but re-signed with the club both times. What if the Mets let him walk?

The name Yoenis Cespedes means something completely different to New York Mets fans today than it did four years ago. Back in 2015, his name represented the awesome run the team made in 2015. Without him, the Mets never would have made it to the World Series against the Kansas City Royals.

Although Cespedes didn’t do anything historic in his first half-season with New York, he helped change the culture. Much like Marcus Stroman in 2019, the addition added a lot more than statistics. The mood shifted and Cespedes was a big, powerful reason for it.

When they first acquired him, the Mets potentially landed a rental. His contract was set to expire after 2015, meaning the team had a big decision to make for their future. Would they negotiate to keep the big guy or move on?

It’s easy now to say they should have let Cespedes walk—or perhaps limp—away after the year. Back then, there would have been some outrage over not keeping him around longer.

This is the world of sports. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. The Mets did and the incurring results damned them.

I wonder, though, what if the Mets did let Cespedes walk? There are a lot of variables to consider as we’ll never know for sure what else they could have done.

To keep it simple, let’s assume the Mets spend the same amount of money. Cespedes took home a $27.5 million paycheck in 2016 with an opt-out he ended up using after. I’ll explore their other options if the Mets decided not to bring him back for a second time.

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