So the Mets made it official last week with the signing of Yoenis Cespedes to a 3-year, $75 million contract. Cespedes has a full no-trade clause and can opt-out after one season and will be paid $27.5 milliont.
I love the back-story of how this deal went down. Sandy Alderson asked Brodie Van Wagenen (Cespedes' agent), "Does Yoenis want to come back to New York?"
The answer was, "Yes."
I also like the fact that the Cespedes team asked Alderson, “Are you in it to win it?”
Alderson answered, "Yes" and both sides were able to reach an accord on a deal. It is a win-win for both sides as Cespedes gets paid for at least one-year, and if everything works out for both sides than the Mets win the World Series and the Cuban defector will get his long-term contract after this season, most likely not with the Mets. So it is, in essence, a one year partnership as the Mets brought back an impact bat on their terms. In the aftermath, accolades will be thrown toward Alderson for waiting out the market and letting the player come back to him. Alderson was patient.
Roses will be thrown at the feet of Cespedes for willing to take less guaranteed money, which is also true. But let’s not bury the lede. What worked in favor of the Mets ultimately was the terrible reputation that Yoenis Cespedes has around Major League Baseball. Maybe "terrible" is a little strong, but there was a lack of trust in terms of him obtaining a long-term contract. That is the biggest reason why he did not get the contract he was looking for, even after five-year offers from both Baltimore and Washington. It was not the six-year, $150 million contract offer that Cespedes and his representatives were looking for as they entered the free-agency process.
What also helped was that Mets' ownership decided to up their payroll and spend more money this off-season. Whatever the reason for that decision, they deserve credit. The Wilpons are often roundly criticized for their spending, but now they deserve credit. What Mets fans need to do now is back off. Give ownership credit and worry about the Cespedes opt-out clause another day.
The Mets built upon their post-season run by bringing back Cespedes, a man who captured the imagination of Mets fans and whose initial production was something that I have not seen in all my years of watching baseball. I did not think the Mets would ever bring Cespedes back, but that was because I assumed there would be another team out there that would give him exactly what he was looking for.
So he can talk about his love for New York City. But what he will ultimately love is free agency next winter when he will be the biggest and best bat on the open market. He hopes the waters are a lot friendlier and at that time he will look for a five-year or six-year long-term contract.
So as Mets fans were irate and upset that Cespedes was out there and that the team was unwilling to sign him, now you can rest easy. Did the fans' reaction and pressure cause ownership to react? I think in all likelihood, the answer to that is yes. But Cespedes needed to play ball and had to be willing to take a short term contract. After all, it was reported on Christmas Eve that the Mets were officially done with Cespedes and sought a complimentary outfielder that hit from the right side of the plate.
I firmly believe that the Mets never would have signed Alejandro De Aza if they thought the Cuban outfielder was coming back. But it is strange how things play out and how the market develops one way or the other. Nobody could have predicted how little overall interest there would be in Cespedes until the very end.
Cespedes is the final piece to an off-season that Alderson and company believe and hope will result in a World Series crown. In the end everyone is happy and the Mets fan gets to turn that frown upside down. As pitchers and catchers are set to report in less than two weeks, the Mets - on paper - go into it as the favorites to not only win the NL East, but also the NL pennant. It is amazing how different the vibe around the organization is these days. I don’t know if I agree with Jeff Wilpon when he says the Mets are a "destination now." This was just one instance. Let’s not forget that Cespedes and his agent did call the Yankees to get them involved and they declined. Let’s also not forget that Ben Zobrist turned down the Mets and signed with the Chicago Cubs.
But that is neither here nor there, when you make a huge signing. The Mets can become that "destination" in the future, but what needs to happen is you need to win and you need to spend money.
Winning days and many of them are here. And spending is up.
Enjoy it Mets fans, because Yo is back!