Yoenis Cespedes walked out of Citi Field after the wild card loss to the Giants with a pretty good idea that he would be back here. The Cuban slugger knew he would opt out of his contract with the Mets, and he left his teammates, the club and his fans pretty much in the dark that day, but Cespedes knew that if the Mets came up with a reasonable contract offer, he’d be back.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure,” Cespedes said through a translator Wednesday evening. “What I did know was that I knew my teammates and a lot of people in the organization, they were really rooting for me to be back so I didn’t know for sure.
“But in my heart that’s what I really wanted it to be.”
On Wednesday night, the Mets officially welcomed Cespedes back to Flushing. The Mets made the four-year, $110 million deal official at a press conference at Citi Field, and Cespedes made it clear this was where he wanted to be all along.
“I said before long before it happened, I wanted to be with this team,” Cespedes said. “I wanted to come back. God willing, I will finish my career with this team.”
After last winter’s uneasy negotiations, when the Mets did not publicly admit their interest in re-signing Cespedes, this deal was relatively easy to work out because of familiarity. The key to it for Cespedes was the length of the contract, respect for ability and a no-trade clause.
“This is the third time we have acquired Yoenis in the last 17 months and it appears that two legal separations have only strengthened the marriage,” Sandy Alderson said with a laugh.
He admitted that the way Cespedes left, keeping the door open through back channel communications made things move faster.
“I felt good about it because one, we wanted him back and two, he wanted to come back,” the Mets GM said. “We were going to have to reach a reasonable accommodation on the value of the contract, but given his interest in returning, we knew that was going to be a possibility.”
Alderson and the Mets still had to pay up for the guy who hit 31 home runs for them in 2016.
Cespedes, 31, will earn an average annual value of $27.5 million, which is the highest ever given to an outfielder in baseball history and the highest AAV the Mets have ever given to a free agent. He currently has the second highest AAV of any position player, behind the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.
The numbers that Alderson focused on, however, were the bottom line. The Mets are 110-79 when Cespedes appears in a game over the last two years.
“The last two years, give or take, in Mets history have been about winning and it has been clear that when Yoenis Cespedes plays for the Mets, the Mets win,” Alderson said. “With all of the analysis and mathematics that liters professional baseball today, that’s a pretty straight forward statistic and compelling one that I think everyone can understand.”
The Mets’ window to win is wide open now. They expect a loaded rotation of healthy young arms back for 2017 and it will only be another year before the Mets start losing control of those starters to free agency. They needed a bat to power the offense during that limited window, and Cespedes’ power at the plate and star power at the gate was the obvious fit.
“New York wants a winner, he obviously makes us win,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. “Sandy and all the guys have done all the metrics on what we are when he plays… and he puts butts in the seats and people want to see him.”
Alderson will now have to make room in the outfield — and in the payroll — for Cespedes. He will look to move one of his other outfielders to keep the payroll under budget and improve in other areas.
The Mets would like to trade Jay Bruce, whose $13 million option they picked up earlier this month, for help in their bullpen. They may have to look to move Curtis Granderson, who is due $15 million in the final year of his four-year deal, instead. They will weigh their options next week at the Winter Meetings.
“We’re going to go to the Winter Meetings and see what’s there,” Alderson said. “We’ve come a long way, right? From no outfield to an overcrowded one, that’s a nicer problem to have and we’ll deal with it next week in some way.”
On Wednesday, for Alderson, the Mets and Cespedes was just about a happy reunion.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News