Yoenis Cespedes will return to the Mets after all.
After reports leaked early this morning that Cespedes was weighing his options between taking a 5-year $100 million deal from the Nationals, or remain with the Mets on a three year, $75 million deal with a one-year opt out, the left-fielder decided the grass at Citi Field was much greener.
Cespedes chose New York not because the Mets front office was savvy in a contract negotiation, but rather he chose New York because he was most comfortable with his current surroundings, and with the opt out, he could be the highest paid outfielder in a weak outfield market next off-season. Of course the Mets hope he decides to opt in for 2017 and remains with the team through the 2018 season.
If Cespedes stays long term, this is a tremendous boost to the Mets chances not only in 2016 but for years to come. This was a no-brainer. With the market not budging on Cespedes' demands for a six-year deal of roughly $22 million per, the Mets had to jump in. They couldn't allow him to walk away to Washington D.C. and become a horrific reminder of a missed opportunity.
Cespedes rescued the Mets last year. When the brought him in on July 31, the Mets were only three games over .500 (53-50) and were the worst scoring offense in baseball. By the end of the season, the Mets were averaging 5.4 runs per game, the best in baseball from August 1 to the end of the regular season. The Mets were 37-22 in those 59 games with Cespedes as he led the way to a division title. While Cespedes cooled off dramatically in the playoffs, his value to the team became magnified as the off-season progressed.
Without him, the Mets were starring at a future of Juan Lagares and Alejandro De Aza platooning in center field, with an aging Curtis Granderson in right and young Michael Conforto in left. It was going to be ugly. With Cespedes back in the fold, he can take over center field all to himself, and can even play a little right field to take pressure off of Granderson's aging legs. He also lengthens the Mets lineup taking a ton of pressure off Conforto and Lucas Duda.
Cespedes for the rest of us indeed.
Cespedes is a tremendous talent. He hit 35 homers and drove in 103 last year, and owns 251 total extra base hits in his career. The Mets needed him as much as Cespedes needs the Mets, even if it is for just one year of financial leverage to a better contract.
So at the end of the day should we really be patting the backs of the Wilpon's, Sandy Alderson and Cespedes? Maybe, just a little because right now this feels good. But in the long term, it might be a just another pit stop in a career full of pit stops for Yoenis Cespedes.