7:55pm: Cespedes has already walked back his comments somewhat, as Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. Asked about his earlier comments, Cespedes replied (through a translator): “I’ve said it before: My intentions, of course, are to be here for three years and if I can spend the rest of my career with the Mets I would.” Cespedes, though, said he hasn’t made a final decision as to whether he’ll opt out. “My focus is just to play baseball and help the team win, hopefully make it to the playoffs. I let my agents worry about all that.”
Certainly, it’d be fairly stunning if Cespedes passed up the opportunity to hit the open market, though the possibility of course remains that his agents could work out an extension or that he could simply opt out and re-sign for a considerably larger sum than the $47.5MM he’d be guaranteed through 2018 under his current contract.
1:33pm: Mets star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes says that he still intends to stay for the final two years of his contract with the Mets, as Bob Klapisch and Matt Ehalt of the Bergen Record report. Of course, there’s still time to go before he has to decide on his opt-out clause, which still looks like the better financial decision from his perspective.
Cespedes landed in New York via trade, but seemingly prioritized a return when he hit the open market last winter. He spurned larger guarantees from other organizations to stick with the Mets for a three-year, $75MM commitment with the opt-out opportunity coming after just one season. (It’s important to note that the other reported contracts on the table had lower average annual values and lacked the opportunity to re-enter the market.)
Though he has long maintained that he was signing on for the full three years that the contract could cover, Cespedes has done nothing but improve his market thus far in 2016. While he has missed a bit of time due to injury, the 30-year-old has compiled a robust .295/.365/.570 batting line that nearly matches the overall output he gave the Mets last year down the stretch.
That could spell big dollars if Cespedes does end up changing his mind and declining what amounts to a two-year, $47.5MM player option. Though he’ll surely come with a qualifying offer attached this time around, and is obviously a year older, the Cuban star also now has two consecutive years of stellar play to support his case. There other other top power bats and other outfielders available, but Cespedes currently holds the top spot in the free agent power rankings of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes.
Whether or not New York would make another push to retain Cespedes remain unclear. It’s theoretically possible the club could weigh an extension offer, or pursue the veteran slugger if he triggers the clause. But it’s largely beyond question that the organization would be overjoyed if he decides to stay. Even with both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce under contract for another year (the former via guarantee, the latter an option), Juan Lagares set to return from injury, and younger players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo on hand, the remaining commitment to Cespedes represents a reasonably-priced route to top-line production that would be hard to count on from other sources.