DECEMBER 21: Under the amended contract, Cespedes will see his 2020 base salary drop from $29.5MM to just $6MM, according to a report from Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. However, that number will hike up to $11MM as soon as Cespedes is on the active roster or the IL with an injury unrelated to the contentious ankle fracture. Cespedes will still be able to reach the $20MM threshold through a series of plate appearance bonuses totaling $9MM; if he reaches 650 plate appearances, he will earn that entire amount.
5:25pm: Cespedes’s pocketbook has taken a huge hit, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. In addition to losing some of his 2019 earnings, he’ll now be guaranteed less than $10MM for the season to come. He can earn his way back to the $20MM range through the incentives.
For the Mets, the benefit comes primarily from the perspective of cash accounting. It’s unclear whether this modification will be reflected in the calculation of the team’s payroll for purposes of computing the competitive balance tax. Even if so, the reduction presumably wouldn’t be dollar-for-dollar (barring some special treatment), since the CBT refers to the average annual salary of a contract.
4:29pm: Much but not all of the guarantee can be recouped via performance and awards bonuses, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets.
3:58pm: There’s more to this story (and more sure to come). The Mets stopped paying his salary at some point during the 2019 season, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). The organization also brought a grievance action relating to Cespedes’s 2020 earnings.
The involvement of Cespedes’s 2019 salary adds another wrinkle to this. For one thing, it seems the club has been saving on its hefty obligations to the veteran slugger for some time. (Timing remains unclear.) For another, it appears there was quite a lot more cash at stake in the dispute than was already evident. Cespedes was due to earn $29MM last year.
3:21pm: The Mets and injured outfielder Yoenis Cespedes have agreed to “amend” the remainder of his contract with the team, according to Andy Martino of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Details of the arrangement aren’t yet clear, but it seems there is a modification to the salary Cespedes will earn in the coming season.
As things stand, Cespedes is due $29.5MM in the final season of his four-year deal. He’ll remain under contract, but at a lower rate. The modification relates to the injury suffered this May. Cespedes shattered his right ankle in an accident on his ranch while recovering from successive surgeries to both heels.
While we still lack a full public accounting of how Cespedes was injured, it seems clear that he was in a jeopardized position with regard to his contract. This settlement — which surely involved the league and union — will allow both sides to avoid the cost and strain of a full-throated legal battle. For the Mets, they now know just how much they will save on their obligations to Cespedes at a key juncture in the offseason.
The Mets entered the winter with a payroll predicament. This news promises to free up a good chunk of change to put towards other uses. The club will still have Cespedes on hand as a complete wild card — his talent is undeniable but his physical capabilities are at this point unknown — but can divert a substantial portion of what it would’ve paid him to other purposes. The club had reportedly been looking to move some underperforming contracts as a means of freeing payroll. Just how the offseason course will be impacted by today’s news remains to be seen.