In a bold stroke of General Managership, Sandy Alderson pulled off what virtually all the pundits said was impossible; getting Yoenis Cespedes to sign a short term deal. As in numerous other situations, Alderson’s extreme patience payed off. While rumors continued to swirl that Cespedes was seeking a long term contract of 5 or 6 years in the neighborhood of $150 million, a stone faced Alderson held firm, insisting that he wanted Cespedes, but for not more than three years. Then, a few days ago, motivated by arch rival Washington’s offer of 5 years/$100+ million, Sandy pulled out all the stops. He was, of course, assisted by the fact that Yoenis deeply desired to return to the Mets, and therefore instructed his agents, Roc Nation, to approach the Mets when he was confronted with Washington’s bid.
As the two parties danced in the most unlikely mating ritual, Alderson found the keys to bring Cespedes home on his terms; an opt out clause after one year, and the second highest annual salary of any position player in the majors. Despite not getting the long term deal he wanted, Cespedes can brag about the fact that he can enter free agency again next year in a much leaner outfielder class, and that in the interim, he will receive $27.5 million, second among position players, only to Miguel Cabrera’s AAV of $31 million. And the Mets get that huge bat for the middle of the lineup they so sorely needed. The addition of Cespedes should clearly establish the Mets as the favorite (or perhaps co-favorite with the Cubs) to represent the NL in the 2016 World series.
The signing of Cespedes is a tribute to Sandy Alderson, not only for initiating this deal, but for creating a winning culture and assembling the group of players, coaches and a manager who established a clubhouse chemistry and camaraderie that a player like Cespedes felt he had to return to. He has made the New York Mets into a highly desired destination for any major league player to aspire. And it is a tribute to the owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, who approved the $75 million contract and a $27.5 increase in the 2016 payroll, when it was already at the point that Sandy had said it would be this year. According to my figures, the payroll for the 25 man opening day roster stands at $136.37 million. With an additional estimated $5 million for fringe players and minor leaguers to whom the Mets are committed, the opening day payroll will likely be something north of $140 million. I wonder if that will keep the many Wilpon detractors, those who have been screaming for them to sell the team, quiet for at least the next few days.