The Mets took their first step in moving away from Yoenis Cespedes when they picked up Jay Bruce’s $13-million option Thursday afternoon. Cespedes has until midnight Saturday to inform the Mets he will opt out of his contract to become a free agent.
The Mets fully expect Cespedes to opt out and have thought that for months. Reportedly their plan is to wait out the process, much like they did with him last winter and Johan Santana years ago.
They took their time last year and Cespedes was on the verge of signing a five-year, $110-million package with Washington before changing his mind and going back to the Mets. Based on such history, figure that’s where the bidding will start, but considering his 31 homers in 2016, it could be higher.
The Mets have been enamored with Cespedes since he powered them to the 2015 World Series. Although he had a flat Series against the Royals, the Mets were hot to bring him back. Cespedes was an electric hitter for the Mets this year, but there were also long dry stretches, injuries, and his high maintenance persona.
They traded for Bruce when Cespedes as hurting and struggling with the hope he would ignite their offense. He did not and clearly disappointed Mets’ fans until the last two weeks of the season.
When the Mets acquired Cespedes from Cincinnati, they said at the time their control over Bruce’s contract was a crucial variable as it was their hedge on Cespedes leaving. That means they’ve been counting on Cespedes – who is at least two years older than Bruce by the way – leaving. Hell, I thought he would opt out when I first learned of his contract.
Reportedly the Mets will offer Cespedes a qualifying offer of roughly $17 million as to acquire a compensatory draft pick. That’s just good business. Cespedes, of course, is expected to decline, which is good business on his part.
Is Cespedes worth $110 million over five years? I don’t think so, but then again it’s not my money.
There are a lot of things $110 can buy, including:
* Adding a closer, an unforeseen need with Jeurys Familia expected to be suspended for at least 30 games after being arrested on domestic abuse charges.
* Signing one or more of their young pitchers to a long-term deal. That is if they are physically able.
* Bringing back Neil Walkers, who filed for free agency today
* Bringing back set-up reliever Addison Reed, who’ll cost them at least $11 million a season.
* Picking up a variety of pieces around the Mets, including patching the bullpen; Lucas Duda; improving their catching; bringing back Curtis Granderson for another year if they desire; and a myriad of other possibilities.
They can do all that, plus extend Bruce, if they move on from Cespedes.