Prior to the Mets’ re-signing of Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year, $75MM contract with an opt-out clause after the first season, the Nationals were viewed as the primary competitor for his services, offering a reported five-year deal with a value said to be around $100MM and an opt-out after two years. A pair of reports from Jon Heyman (Twitter link) and Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (at GammonsDaily.com) now shed some further light on the matter. According to Heyman, the base value of the contract was $110MM, but the deal contained “significant” deferrals. While that info alone makes it difficult to compare the two offers, Gammons adds further context, stating that the $110MM was to be paid out over a 15-year term, and after factoring in the deferred monies, the present-day value of the proposed contract was roughly $77MM.
If that number is indeed accurate, it’s not surprising to see that Cespedes chose a comparable amount over a shorter contract that contained an earlier opt-out date with a team/city with which he was already familiar. Of course, it should also be noted that the present-day value of any multi-year contract is somewhat less than the face value of the deal; the $47.5MM that Cespedes would earn from the Mets if he does not exercise the opt-out clause will be worth less in 2017-18 than it would be in the present day. Nevertheless, the extent of the deferrals in the contract proposed by the Nationals certainly appears to make the Mets’ offer a stronger option, barring further revelations about the pair of proposals.
As Gammons continues, the Nationals had to offer significant deferrals not only to Cespedes, but also to Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist in their respective pursuits, due largely to the structuring of the MASN television contract. Because of the deferred money in their offers to Heyward and Zobrist, neither proposed contract was even close to the overall value that the duo got when ultimately signing with the Cubs. In Heyward’s case, the Cardinals’ offer was also significantly stronger than the reported 10-year, $200MM contract proposed by the Nats, after factoring in deferrals, Gammons notes.
Per Gammons, the structuring of the MASN television rights required the Nats to offer significant deferrals in virtually all of their contract offers this winter. Back in November a New York Supreme Court Judge ruled in favor of the Orioles (the majority owners of MASN), thereby voiding a payment of tens of millions of dollars that had been awarded to the Nationals by an arbitration panel in an effort to settle an ongoing dispute over the allocation of the network’s rights fees. (MLBTR’s Jeff Todd examined the dispute at length at the time of the ruling.) As Gammons notes, the difficulties for the Nationals will continue to linger until the two teams can come to some type of resolution on the matter.