Reese Kaplan -- What Will It Cost to Keep Cespedes?

As Jerry Seinfeld proclaimed, we now have a Cespedes for the rest of us. For how long, of course, is the question on everyone's mind. Yesterday's good news about both the Mets and Cespedes agreeing to waive the odd clause that would have rendered him a free agent five days after the conclusion of the World Series is a potentially great development for Mets fans. Had it not changed, the current collective bargaining agreement would have prohibited the Mets from signing him until May 15th. There's no way he would have forfeited six weeks of paychecks just to sign with the Mets. Consequently, instead of having just five days to work out a deal with Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets are on equal footing with the other 29 teams in bidding for his services.

Of course, it's all for naught if the price to lock him up is beyond what the team feels they can afford to spend. There's no question he's been the bright shining star that helped catapult the Mets from near-contenders to division leaders. The numbers speak for themselves – as a Met in 150+ ABs he is hitting .311 with 13 Hrs and 34 RBIs. His slugging percentage is a Trout or Cabrera-like .670 and his OPS is an otherworldly 1.027. To give you a comparison, Bryce Harper in an MVP-likely season is slugging .646 with a 1.114 OPS. The aforementioned Mike Trout is slugging .575 and delivering a .968 OPS. Miguel Cabrera is .567 and 1.098. Yes, Cespedes has been THAT good.

Take last night's game. After becoming the goat for misplaying a single into four bases and burying the Mets behind a seemingly insurmountable 7-1 lead, Cespedes came to bat with the bases loaded. On the very first pitch he lined a bases clearing double down the left field line to add to his RBI total and bring the Mets within a single run, 7-6. They went on to tie in that inning and, of course, went up 8-7 on the unlikely pinch hit HR by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the 8th inning.

So, everyone is giddy with the team's performance and the way Cespedes has put the offense on his back and led the team towards its first post-season appearance since 2006. What is a fair price for his services going forward if the Mets were to make him an offer as a free agent?

The over-$20 million per year club includes:

Miguel Cabrera $31 million (new contract extension for 2016 onward)
Alex Rodriguez $30 million
Giancarlo Stanton $25 million
Robinson Cano $24 million
Mark Teixeira $23 million
Prince Fielder $23 million
Joe Mauer $23 million
Adrian Gonzalez $21 million
Matt Kemp $20 million
Ryan Howard $20 million
David Wright $20 million

At age 30 he could go one of two ways – go for a contract with an out clause a'la Giancarlo Stanton, or just lock up a long term end-his-career type of deal like Robinson Cano or Joe Mauer. As Mets fans are painfully aware, long term deals like Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, Jason Bay and even David Wright have a way of coming back to haunt you. Still, rebuilding and trying to make due with 2nd tier players like Chris Young and Curtis Granderson doesn't give you the overall production of one superstar caliber player like Cespedes does (at about the same cost).

Now consider what's coming off the books this year. In all likelihood the Mets will be parting ways with (rounded totals):

Bartolo Colon $11 million
Yoenis Cespedes $10 million
Daniel Murphy $08 million
Tyler Clippard $08 million
Juan Uribe ` $07 million
Eric O'Flaherty $05 million
Addison Reed $05 million
Bobby Parnell $04 million
Jerry Blevins $02 million
Jenrry Mejia $02 million
Kelly Johnson $01 million

Salary Departing: $63 million

Consequently there is money there to pay for Cespedes if the Mets are so inclined. The question is how much and for how long? I would try to put this offer on the table – 6 years and $25 million – $150 million – with an out clause after year 3. Cespedes could then opt to try to snag another big payday at age 33 or remain with the Mets for a guaranteed $75 million. My rationale on the numbers is that this is his first huge season, though it is his second 100 RBI season. He's not at the upper most echelon of performers based on a limited track record, but you are going to have to pay a premium to keep him in New York and for what he's done to improve the team already. If that is the offer on the table, who leaves the room – Cespedes or the Mets (if the numbers are asked to be higher per year or for more years)? This magnitude of deal means that Cespedes and not David Wright is the face of the franchise. Would the team make this kind of commitment?

What is a fair number and a fair term?


Unknown said...

Well - if he continues his pace we are talking Carlos Beltran in 2004

If he hits at this pace through the play-offs, he will get PAID

I would offer him a 6 years / $120 mill - with the first three at $25 mill and the right to void it after 3 years - something like that

If we front load him now, he is easier to move in 3 years if he falls off the table, or he crushes it for the next 3 years and walks away then - I think we win either way.

The beauty of things are that the Mets have a lot of money coming off the books and not a lot of wholes to fill

eraff said...

63 million is a very weighted and fuzzy Math..... the actual "off the base pyroll guys":
Murph: 8
Bart: 11
Parnell 5

so...25 million or so of "big dollars"

assuming a growth of salaries due to step ups and arbitration, you could largely view a 20-25 million contract as "trade" for the 3 guys above. If you have 20 million in arb growth, you end up around 115-125 million.... that would seem to be a friendly and doable number.

Robb said...

Structure is really important especially when you look at wholistic numbers for the club.

of 2016: Cuddyer 11.5, grandy 16, legares 2.5, conforto .5 =30.5/47.5
of 2017: grandy 15, legares 4.5, conforto .5, nimmo .5 = 20.5/46.5
of 2018: legares 6.5, conforto 1.0, nimmo .5 =8.5/41.5

what you want to give him is 7 154, what id do is 6 w/o after 3 for 6/148 maybe you add a 7 year at 12 w a 4.5 mm
structured 17, 26, 32, 30, 25, 18 (15/4.5) = 7 years 153.5 or 7 years 163

maybe ive given this some thought.


Anonymous said...

I think the benchmarks are Choo and Ellsbury, meaning 6/140 or 7/140. YC will be the most valuable FA out there this off season and Roc Nation has demonstrated that they will send their clients to a place like Seatlle if the money is there. I like the idea of a fat contract front loaded with player opt outs. Should be interesting what the market says.

Anon Joe F

Mack Ade said...

Let's remember a few things...

1. Cuddyer, Granderson, Lagares, and Conforto will be back for 2016

2. Nieuwenhuis wouldn't be the worst 5th outfielder

3. At some point in the season DC and Nimmo will be promoted.

I know this isn't as sexy as having Cespedes in here, but if the 2016 Mets can play with a healthy d'Arnaud and Wright, it still is a quality lineup for their young pitching

Anonymous said...

Respectfully, I hate Mack's notion that the Mets can do nothing in 2016. Sure, if everybody stays healthy the offense should be okay enough. Just subtract Murphy & Cespedes and hope for the best.

To me, that's the formula for second place. And why? To keep payroll under $100? Under $90?

Bring in a bat. If we've learned anything this season, let it be that. Sell tickets. Give the fans something to cheer about.

For half a season, it was nearly criminal to sit there and deny that staff the support it so obviously needed. The club cannot revert to that formula in 2016.

If they can't get Cespedes, if some other team blows them out of the water, okay, I understand. But then they've got to talk to Upton, lose a draft pick, and all that good stuff. My feeling is they a CF and that Cespedes is the perfect fit. It would be unacceptable to unlearn the lessons of this great, wonderful, joyous (and lucrative) pennant run.

James Preller

Mack Ade said...

James -

I didn't say do nothing.

You have the PCL rookie of the year and another top 50 prospect down on the farm...

All I was trying to point out was that.

bgreg98180 said...

Cuddyer, Granderson, Lagares.....
All of them should be pushed aside if they were in the way of retaining Cespedes.

bgreg98180 said...

Anything less than Cespedes should be looked at as a significant step backwards.
He adds speed, defense, offense, athleticism, and a presence in the middle if the lineup that is not replaced by Duda, Wright, D'Arnaud. ...etc...

Plans A through D should all include Cespedes moving forward.....

Michael S. said...

To be taken seriously going forward they have to re-sign Cespedes. The OF next year should have:

LF: Conforto
CF: Cespedes
RF: Granderson/Cuddyer

I'd love to keep Kirk on the bench but I think Nimmo gets promoted mid-season. I'd also try and get creative with a Cespedes contract, taking into account the money coming off this offseason, Cuddyer's contract after 2016, and potential salary relief by dealing Granderson a year early.

While we're actually talking about re-signing proven MLB talent, I'd make bringing Clippard back a priority as well.

James Preller said...


When it comes to position players, my feeling is the Mets have two areas where they can improve the team: CF and SS.

In addition, they need a very good Plan B for 3B.

I don't think Nimmo is the CF, and Cecchini is something of a question mark. I would not count on either player. With Herrera, I'd be willing to give him more latitude in the hopes he can do it.

Maybe I was strong, but I see your post as more "internal options," and going cheap, at a time when this team should be thinking World Championships.

I don't want the thinking to be, "Well, who is next in line?" I want it to be, "Who can help put us over the top?"

Trading Matt Harvey to the Red Sox -- which I am not eager to do at this point -- would certainly be an alternative way to address those positional needs. I still think there's a great pitcher in there, and that another year of a fully recovered Matt Harvey would be extremely valuable.

James Preller

Kevin S said...

No reason to include Nimmo in any 2016 plans unless he hits his way to the majors or injuries. He's a top prospect but hasn't proven anything in my eyes yet. No reason to include Kirk in any 2016 plans. Loved his HR last night but he's not a piece to build around. If Lagares is hurt then he would be my first bet to come up. No plans should be built around Cuddyer. He is the perfect backup corner OF/1B. That's it. Don't depend on him to stay healthy and play everyday because he's proving that won't happen.

The Met's have a nice window here to compete. Winning brings in fans, which brings in $$$$$ which we know the Wilpons love. Invest the $ in Cespedes. Lagares as 4th OF and Cuddyer as 5th OF/1B. Kelly Johnson would serve as a nice insurance for Wright and could also double as a corner OF. Win-win. Like Uribe but he's one-dimensional.

No matter what. I'm excited about 2015. I'm excited about 2016 and beyond. This is our window that we've been waiting for since that Beltran K.

S Finch said...

I am awfully nervous about gambling with a longterm contract for Cespedes. We will have to pay him like a superstar, when he has put up allstar numbers once in his career. His contract year. Both Ellsbury and Cano had much longer track records of being first tier starters, which justified their initial contracts. .....and how do they look now?

Honestly, I'd be more interested in Heyward

Stubby said...

The Mets need to at least make a serious run at keeping Cespedes here. I'd understand if the insane money draws him somewhere else. But if we don't at least make a serious offer (25 G's per, I'd guess), I'm going to be pretty upset, myself, and you know I don't fret much about the Wilpons. I like Heyward, sure. I like Cespedes better. He's here and he clearly fits. And I doubt Heyward is coming in any cheaper.

S Finch said...

25 a year for the 2013-2014 Cespedes is pretty scary. Before this year, Cespedes was pretty much Daniel Murphy at the plate. Similar Wrc+. Not too mention, all at the tail end of his prime.

Even at the same price I take Heyward. Much younger, much better defensively, and comparable offensively (obviously with the exception of this year).

Do I want cespedes? Of course, but I think we are talking a minimum of 150mil. Lot of comments here seem awfully optimistic. He didn't sign with roc nation and negotiate an opt out clause for nothing.

Anonymous said...

That Cespedes can play CF for the next two years is huge. Some folks talk as if signing another corner outfielder would give us a similar result. Conforto and Granderson aren't going anywhere. The hole is in the middle of the field.

James Preller

bgreg98180 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bgreg98180 said...

This is old Met thinking.
Pass on the better player and settle for the less expensive 2nd tier player.

Just like getting Bay instead of Holiday.

bgreg98180 said...

Much better defensively??? That is very debatable.
Too close to make such a definitive statement.

Big difference: Cespedes has proven to be a difference making presence in the middle of a lineup. Heyward has never come close to making the same type of impression.

Cespedes ' s presence in the middle of the lineup improves everyone else. This is the reason you can't substitute cheaper alternatives because their statistics are close.
Sometimes you have to actually see players play and not just look at numbers.

bgreg98180 said...

Very important point.

Robb said...

I included Nimmo bc he goes on the 40 man this off season.

S. Finch said...

No, its not debatable. Every defensive metric rates heyward better in a corner outfield spot. Same with cf, although its a small sample size. Every scouting report will say the same
Cespedes holds his own, but heyward adds value.

You can talk about presence and how it all appears to the biased eye, but aside from this year, cespedes and heyward have similar offensive production.

jos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S. Finch said...

No this is called having a long-term outlook. Sure , right now and maybe next year cespedes is better, but you are paying for the next 5+ years. I'll put my money on heyward being more valuable over a five year period.

You can't manage a team with a 1-2 year outlook. A signing like cano can sink a team and its flexibility for years if it goes south quickly.

S. Finch said...


I assume you are referring to my post about cespedes and cf. I would argue heyward is as much of a cf as cespedes is. Neither belong there ideally, but can hack it if necessary. Provides the same opportunity for a platoon with lagares as well.

Anonymous said...


I like Heyward and his 11 HRs this season. He's very fine player and a terrific glove in the corner.

But Cespedes has proven, in NYC, that he has the ability to be the main man on a winning ballclub. He fits. You always wonder, in NY, how a guy will react to the limelight, the pressure.

With Cespedes, we know. You can see the talent. I'm sold.

And that's no disrespect to Heyward, who is a very good complementary player.

James Preller

bgreg98180 said...

2 things

1) the metric difference is not big. Remember you a gloss over the difference in offensive production.

2) as you point out..... Cespedes is trending upward more.

bgreg98180 said...


bgreg98180 said...

You are making biased assumptions on what may be.

Unknown said...

The HUGE point here is YC is doing it in New York AND in a pennant race like no one we've ever had. We have to capitalize on our young under control starters the next few year's and you have to ask yourselves how much winning a World series is worth. Fifty four years and 2 World championships and I'm ready to go all in on YC. Another BIG point here that I mentioned y/day is I could see the Nats going big time for him and that would be a disaster so weight all your option's Freedy and Saul and don't cheap out here.

Anonymous said...

In some ways, I preferred it when the Mets had to sign him five days after the WS. They could make him a great offer and get it done, more or less keeping him off the market. Now that the Mets have to compete with every other team in baseball, it's a lot tougher.

One thing I feel strongly about: My eyes glaze over anytime some suggests "getting creative" with the offer or taking this angle or that angle. He's going to want to lot of money. The only question is does he want "the most" money, or only an insane amount of money? Because NYC with the Mets is the best situation for Yoenis Cespedes. I truly believe that.

OTOH, Jay-Z sent Cano to Seattle. I keep waiting for ballplayers to figure it out, but so few do. So many different factors should go into this decision, and yet it always seems to come down to only one, the team with the biggest check.

I want the organization to really, really make a strong effort to sign this guy. But if it gets completely crazy, well, you don't want to get dragged into a situation where you have to out-crazy the competition. Where is that line exactly? I don't know. I think he's a $25 million per ballplayer in today's market.

James Preller

eraff said...

Insane Money versus The Most Money--- Cano took The Most Money....and it was INSANELY More than the merely insane money. It wasn't a mill or 5 a year---something like a 60-100 million upgrade over the full contract. Noboidy could turn that down.

Mack's Mets © 2012