Based on how things stand right now, it is likely that Walker will accept his offer, while Cespedes will not. Despite having a strong season, Walker was forced to shut it down early due to a back injury. He underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk on September 8th. While he is progressing nicely in his rehab, which is why the Mets were comfortable making the qualifying offer, the injury and the draft pick it would now require to sign him, might make teams weary of making a move.
Additionally, accepting the offer makes sense for Walker because he knows the Mets want him and after making $10.55 million on the one-year contract he signed last offseason, the current offer would give him a raise and since it is another one-year deal, a chance to parlay a good season into a multi-year deal next offseason. While it is likely he will return, even if he decides to leave, the Mets should still be in good shape at second base.
While the picture with Walker seems clearer, things are murkier with Cespedes. Fans are starting to grow concerned that they will lose another big slugger in this offseason, after seeing Murphy go last year. In opting out of his current contract, Cespedes is leaving $47.5 million of guaranteed money on the table over the next two years. Broken down, that’s $23.75 million per season, over $6 million more per year than the current one-year $17.2 million the Mets are currently offering. Add to that the fact that the Mets already seemed prepared to lose their All-Star outfielder and it seems pretty clear that both sides are going to move on.
From Cespedes’ point of view, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to accept the offer or even return to the Mets. Prior to making the qualifying offer, the Mets had not engaged Cespedes in contract talks, even though they knew he was going to opt out of his current deal. The team has also expressed a concern about offering a long-term deal both because Mets GM Sandy Alderson typically doesn’t like doing that (the longest contract he’s given is a four-year deal to Curtis Granderson in December 2013) and the Mets are also concerned about what kind of work ethic they would get in return. Cespedes’ work ethic was also called into question last offseason.
All that being the case, it would make sense that Cespedes would look for a team that is willing to offer the long-term deal (and big pay day) he is seeking, while also not having concerns over his work ethic once the contract is signed. Regardless of what happens, expect a resolution to come quickly in terms of whether or not the Mets want Cespedes to return. The team has said they want to have things wrapped up, one way or the other, by the end of the league meetings in December.