Tag: Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes’ $110M Free-Agent Deal a Win-Win for Him, New York Mets

Since Yoenis Cespedes and the New York Mets seem so right for one another, it’s fitting they would agree to a contract that’s so right for one another.

A reunion between Cespedes and the Mets was the big news coming off the hot stove Tuesday.

The 31-year-old outfielder became a free agent when he opted out of a three-year, $75 million contract in early November, which prompted questions about whether he would find a better deal elsewhere. Instead, he found a better deal at the same place he’s called home since the 2015 trade deadline.

After Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the deal was done, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports spilled the details:

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Cespedes also got full no-trade protection.

And so, the 2016-17 MLB offseason recorded its first major signing. Cespedes‘ deal is worth more than twice the $52 million Josh Reddick got from the Houston Astros in his own four-year contract. It’s appropriate Cespedes was the one to do the deed, as he was widely considered the best free agent available this winter.

The bigger surprise was that the Mets signed Cespedes. They always loomed as the best fit for him, but whether they could make the financials work was a big question from the beginning.

It became an even bigger question when Mike Puma of the New York Post ran out this report last week:

Within the industry, there is a growing sense the star outfielder will command a five-year deal, which would leave the Mets facing a major decision on their immediate future.

As it stands, the Mets are likely committed to signing the 31-year-old if a four-year contract in the $100 million-to-$110 million neighborhood can be hammered out, according to an industry source, but there is less clarity on the matter when an additional year — which could push the value of a deal beyond $130 million — is considered.

A deal in that neighborhood was hardly out of the question. For instance, Tim Dierkes, Steve Adams and Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors projected Cespedes would find a five-year, $125 million contract.

The fact that the Mets brought him back for one fewer year and for significantly less guaranteed money was a big win for them. And at $27.5 million per season, they’ll pay him the rough equivalent of the salary they just fit onto their payroll in 2016.

And just as important, they retained a hugely important part of their lineup.

Cespedes has done nothing but mash for the Mets since they acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in July 2015. He OPS’d .942 with 17 home runs over the last two months of that season and returned to OPS .884 with 31 homers in 2016.

Cespedes‘ production has gone back and forth between propelling the Mets offense to greatness and saving it from utter ruin. Without him in 2015, New York would not have caught fire like it did. Without him in 2016, an even worse fate than finishing tied for 11th in the National League in runs would have been in store.

The reality that this arrangement will continue at a reasonable rate for four more years makes it easier for the Mets to swallow the downsides that are part of living with Cespedes. Those include his occasional defensive lapses and the aches and pains that have limited him to under 140 games in three of his five major league seasons.

Of course, his status as an easily marketable superstar is another bonus that makes him worth the occasional annoyances. Cespedes is media-shy, but his fondness for long dingers and shiny objects gives him a larger-than-life persona that’s perfect for baseball’s biggest media market.

But lest anyone think Cespedes did the Mets a favor by agreeing to a possibly below-market deal, let’s pump the brakes for a second.

Neither the years nor the dollars jump off the page relative to past free-agent contracts, but the average annual value of Cespedes‘ deal is no joke. Here’s Rosenthal putting it in perspective:

So to that extent, Cespedes‘ new contract makes him one of the highest-paid players in baseball history. And in the long run, the relatively short length of it could ensure there’s more where that came from.

Though Cespedes is still an excellent athlete who runs well and throws as mightily as any outfielder, his main attraction is his power. It was trending down for a while there, but he’s since turned into one of the best mashers in baseball. Over the last two seasons, he ranked 12th among qualified hitters in ISO (isolated power) with a mark of .251.

Cespedes has always had the swing path to get to this point, as he’s generally hit more fly balls than ground balls. What he needed to start doing was applying his tremendous raw power more consistently.

His hard-contact percentages reveal he’s done just that:

  • 2012: 33.0%
  • 2013: 31.6%
  • 2014: 31.1%
  • 2015: 35.8%
  • 2016: 39.3%

Cespedes added yet another layer to his slugging transformation in 2016: For the first time in his career, he walked more often than the average hitter.

Corinne Landrey of FanGraphs looked at the precedent for this last week and came away unconvinced that this new habit has guaranteed lasting power. However, it might. Cespedes did improve his plate discipline, after all, and his power is certainly a reason for pitchers to be careful with him.

If he remains a disciplined power hitter over the next four seasons, there should be a market for him in his next dance with free agency—even if his other skills have eroded between the ages of 31 and 35. As much as teams like young, well-rounded players, they’ve shown they’re willing to shower money on older, one-dimensional players so long as that one dimension is a dangerous bat.

To wit, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and Victor Martinez each got about $15 million per season in a multiyear contract. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista should do the same this winter.

If Cespedes follows in their footsteps, his new contract will be just as easy to appreciate then as it is now. Maybe he could have found a bigger deal, but he settled for the better deal.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Yoenis Cespedes Re-Signs with Mets: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

For the second year in a row, the New York Mets have re-signed Yoenis Cespedes. The team announced the deal on Wednesday:

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal initially reported the deal on Tuesday. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported the contract is worth $110 million over four years. Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported it comes with a full no-trade clause. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported Cespedes wanted a fifth year but New York held firm at four.

Heyman provided a yearly salary breakdown:

The deal is the second-biggest in Mets history after they paid Carlos Beltran $119 million over seven years.

Cespedes is hopeful he will be able to finish his career with the Mets, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com:

“This is the 3rd time we have acquired Yoenis in 17 months and it appears two legal separations has made the marriage stronger,” general manager Sandy Alderson said, per Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Cespedeschoice of automobiles became one of the more enjoyable stories of spring training last year. Starting pitcher Brett Anderson assumed at least one car dealer is having a good day:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post is a fan of the move:

Sports Illustrated‘s Joe Sheehan raised concern with the no-trade clause, though:

Cespedes is coming off another solid season at the plate. He batted .280 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 132 games.

Last offseason, the then-30-year-old was coming off his best campaign. He was so good in the second half with the Mets that he entered the National League Most Valuable Player discussion.

Despite his success in the Big Apple, he signed what was effectively a one-year deal—three years, $75 million with an opt-out after 2016. While his performance dipped slightly, Cespedes was bound to command a premium in what is a lackluster free-agent market.

Cespedes was arguably the best hitter available this offseason. Edwin Encarnacion (33) and Jose Bautista (36) are both older, while Justin Turner and Ian Desmond don’t boast the same body of work.

Despite that, signing Cespedes comes with concerns.

Since making the jump to the United States, his numbers have fluctuated somewhat from one year to the next, as FanGraphs shows:

In addition to his hitting dropping slightly from 2015, his defense fell off a cliff in 2016. According to FanGraphs, he had a 15.6 ultimate zone rating a year ago, which dropped to minus-6.7 this year. His defensive runs saved fell from 11 to minus-3.

On a less quantifiable level, Cespedes‘ behavior off the field can leave a little to be desired.

During the season, the Mets had to tell him to refrain from golfing while he was on the disabled list after it created negative media attention, per ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin. The New York Daily NewsJohn Harper wrote Cespedes didn’t celebrate with his teammates after the team secured an NL wild-card spot.

Rubin wrote in October about the Mets’ concern regarding Cespedes‘ motivation were he to sign a long-term deal:

General manager Sandy Alderson generally is averse to longer-term deals, and there is particular concern that Cespedes might not provide maximum effort for the duration of a lengthy contract without the carrot of an opt-out clause.

Baseball executives believe Cespedes favors getting money up front, so perhaps a front-loaded, shorter-term deal could work, despite the Mets’ pessimism.

When a star is delivering results, eccentric behavior is embraced—or at least tolerated. When he’s not meeting expectations, that won’t hold true.

For all of his greatness, Barry Bonds’ surly personality was his undoing as he reached the twilight of his MLB career. Manny Ramirez wore out his welcome with the Boston Red Sox despite being a beloved figure among the fanbase for years prior.

None of that is to say Cespedes will start having a negative impact on the Mets clubhouse.

In January, David Wright spoke highly of Cespedes.

“I will put my name behind the statement that Yo was a good teammate on the field and a great teammate off the field,” he said in an interview with the New York Daily NewsKristie Ackert.

Keeping Cespedes is risky; a return to his less impressive Boston Red Sox days isn’t out of the question.

The Mets had little choice but to make every effort to re-sign Cespedes, though. Losing him would have been a crippling blow to the lineup.

The past year demonstrated that New York can’t afford to assume its young starting rotation will guarantee continued title contention. The front office needs to do everything it can to capitalize on its World Series window, and signing Cespedes sends the message the team is willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal.

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What Is Mets’ Backup Plan to Save Offense If Yoenis Cespedes Leaves NY?

To get Yoenis Cespedes in 2015, the New York Mets had to give up the guy who will probably be the American League‘s Rookie of the Year (Michael Fulmer). To keep Cespedes in 2016, the Mets had to offer him a three-year contract that also allowed him to make $27.5 million in one year and become a free agent.

The first price was high. The second price might have been higher.

The price for 2017 and beyond will almost certainly be higher still.

And what about the price if they allow him to walk away? That could be the highest price of all.

“They’re going to keep him,” an American League scout who closely follows the Mets said Wednesday.

Yes, I told him, I understand. The idea here is to come up with a plan for what to do if they don’t.

“They’re going to sign him,” he repeated, not with the confidence of owning inside information but simply with the belief in what makes sense.

I get it, and I get why general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters (including Adam Rubin of ESPN.com) he wants an answer to the Cespedes question before the Dec. 5-8 winter meetings. As well as waiting worked out for the Mets last winter—they re-signed Cespedes January 26 after he found the market softer than expected—waiting would be a bad strategy this time around.

Cespedes felt like more of luxury a year ago, when the Mets were coming off a World Series. He feels like more of a necessity this time, although that mainly means if he does leave, there’s a real necessity to find someone to fill his spot.

Quite simply, if the Mets’ pitching gets healthy and Cespedes returns to the lineup, this team would have a chance to return to the World Series. With no Cespedes and no ready replacement, the Mets might not have enough offense to even return to the postseason.

They were barely a .500 team when he showed up in 2015 before going on a 38-22 run that began the day of the trade. They were 72-52 with Cespedes in the lineup in 2016 and just 15-21 in games he didn’t start.

He drove in 24 more runs than anyone else on the roster and was 24 times the offensive presence of anyone else they could put in the middle of the lineup.

There’s more.

“Say what you want about Cespedes, he has charisma,” the scout said. “Nobody else on that team has it.”

No position players, anyway.

Still, that hardly means the Mets will sign him at any price. That hardly means they should sign him at any price.

So we’re back at the original question of how to replace him if he leaves, with the caveat that this time, the answer can’t be there’s no way they can let him leave.

The easiest way would be to sign another free agent instead, and James Wagner of the New York Times tweeted from the general managers’ meetings about one possibility:

Jose Bautista makes some sense, especially since Mets executive J.P. Ricciardi traded for him as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. He has power, and he’s right-handed—an important consideration for a Mets team that leans lefty.

He’s also 36, trending down and still hoping for a big contract.

Edwin Encarnacion, Bautista’s Blue Jays teammate, is also a free agent. But he fits best at first base, which would require the Mets giving up on Lucas Duda, or at designated hitter, which would require them moving to the American League.

The trade market might be a better answer, even though it would require Alderson to do something he has so far resisted: trading one of his big starting pitchers. Trading a pitcher this winter would be complicated, because the Mets wouldn’t deal Noah Syndergaard, and every other top starter they have will be recovering from some kind of surgery.

Trading Matt Harvey would make the most sense. He has two years left before free agency, and the Mets fully expect him to leave. His health is a factor, though. Harvey’s surgery was to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, and while he’s said to be making a full recovery, it’s unclear how confident other teams will be that he comes all the way back.

The Mets would prefer to keep Jacob deGrom, who underwent surgery in September to address an ulnar nerve issue. But teams would likely view him as a safer bet to come back strong, so he could be a more likely choice to net them the type of hitter they need.

Who would that be? It’s always hard to read the trade market this early in the offseason, with only suggestions about who is available and how much the teams would want in return.

To truly replace Cespedes, the Mets must think big, which means asking about players like Andrew McCutchen and Miguel Cabrera. And that means being open to trading not just Harvey or deGrom, but also top prospect Amed Rosario.

McCutchen is coming off his worst season, and he’s eligible for free agency after next season. Position-wise, though, he’s the best fit, because he can play center field. Cabrera plays first base, turns 34 in April and has a huge contract that runs until he’s 40, with a full no-trade clause. But he might be the biggest lineup-changer in baseball.

McCutchen’s Pittsburgh Pirates and Cabrera’s Detroit Tigers both seem open to listening to trade offers this winter. It’s still hard to know how willing the Tigers would be to moving Cabrera; they could also deal outfielder J.D. Martinez, who could be of interest but is not in Cabrera’s class as a lineup force.

Ryan Braun could be a more realistic option, but the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers would likely want mostly young players in return. Rival scouts who follow the Mets’ farm system say there’s not much of great value beyond Rosario, although 23-year-old Robert Gsellman’s 2016 big league debut could make him attractive.

If they’re willing to offer Harvey and/or deGrom, the Mets may have plenty of options on a winter market devoid of top free-agent starting pitchers. Either one could be a fit for teams like the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox, all of which have deep lineups.

Alderson’s reticence to trade a starter is understandable, because the Mets rely so heavily on their pitching. They’ll go to spring training with some concerns about Harvey and deGrom, but also about Steven Matz (who had shoulder issues and surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow) and Zack Wheeler (still recovering from a 2014 Tommy John surgery).

“If they keep the pitching healthy, they might be able to win a lot of games 2-1,” a National League scout said.

If they don’t re-sign Cespedes or find an adequate replacement, they might need to win all their games 2-1. But how do they replace him?

“They’re going to keep him,” the first scout predicted again.

When you look at the alternatives, it’s easy to understand why they should.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Yoenis Cespedes: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation on Free-Agent OF

Yoenis Cespedes is looking to cash in this winter as a free agent after a huge 2016 season as a member of the New York Mets.

Continue for updates.

Mets Meet with Cespedes’ Agent

Thursday, Nov. 10

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson confirmed he has met with Cespedes’ agent, per James Wagner of the New York Times, adding Alderson believes a resolution this month is “possible.”

Per Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, Alderson would like to have a Cespedes deal done by January.

Giants Could Enter Cespedes Mix

Wednesday, Nov. 9

Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the San Francisco Giants are seen as “one of the more likely pursuers” of Cespedes during the offseason.

Heyman did note the Giants are also considering using prospects Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker in the outfield next year, with general manager Bobby Evans noting the team likes both players.

The Giants really need to find an impact hitter for their lineup. They finished 19th in runs scored and 28th in home runs. Seven players hit at least 10 homers for the team last season, but Brandon Belt led the way with 17.

Left field is currently open in San Francisco with Angel Pagan entering free agency. Cespedes is coming off a terrific offensive season. The 31-year-old hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 homers in 132 games. His 51 walks and walk percentage of 9.4 marked career highs, per FanGraphs.

The Giants finished the season in dreadful fashion. They went 30-42 in the second half after having an MLB-best 57-33 record before the All-Star break.

However, they aren’t far from returning to their pre-All-Star level with a few tweaks. Their starting rotation is still strong with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore. Belt and Buster Posey are terrific hitters, and a full healthy season from Hunter Pence will help.

Finding a bat for the middle of the order and an arm or two in the bullpen will make the Giants the team to beat in the National League West.

Cespedes won’t come cheaply wherever he goes, but the Giants have the means and the motivation to make something happen if they decide to focus their attention on him this offseason.

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Yoenis Cespedes Could Ride Massive Offseason Bidding War to $150 Million Payday

If Yoenis Cespedes is throwing together an offseason playlist, he may want to start with The Beatles’ “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” 

That could be followed by Sean “Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy” Combs’ “It’s All About the Benjamins.” Then, perhaps, ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money.”

Are you sensing a theme?

Cespedes is about to be a big fish in a shallow free-agent pool. He’s going to get paid accordingly.

Yes, technically he hasn’t opted out of the three-year, $75 million deal he signed with the New York Mets in January. But after pulling down $27.5 million in 2016, Cespedes is reportedly planning to pull the contractual rip cord.

The Cuban slugger intends to “wait until three days after the Series for the official move, because there is no incentive to make an early declaration,” according to ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin.

Rubin added the Mets are “pessimistic about their chances of re-signing him.”

“My focus is just to play baseball and help the team win, hopefully make it to the playoffs,” Cespedes said in August, per Mike Puma of the New York Post. “I let my agents worry about all that.”

Chances are his agents are less “worried” and more “rubbing their hands together with glee.”

Cespedes will be arguably the shiniest prize of the offseason. He’ll incite a bidding war. And he may just get the $150 million he was reportedly seeking last winter, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe

There will be other bats for the taking, including mashers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, Mark Trumbo of the Baltimore Orioles and All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals.

Encarnacion is 33, however, and Bautista is 36. Trumbo is 30 and hit 47 home runs for the O’s, but he’s defensively limited and best suited as a designated hitter.

Ramos is 29 and coming off a career year but is recovering from a late-season torn ACL that may have cost the Nats a deeper postseason run and almost surely cost Ramos years and cash.

Ian Desmond had a nice comeback campaign with the Texas Rangers and can play the infield and outfield, but he’s only one year removed from a dismal season with the Nationals. 

Enter Cespedes. He has what offense-starved franchises crave.

Cespedes posted a .280/.354/.530 slash line with 31 homers and earned a second career All-Star nod. And while his minus-three defensive runs saved suggest he’s not an elite defender, he has a howitzer arm and won a Gold Glove in 2015.

Last year, while Cespedes “settled” for a robust one-year payday and bet on himself with the opt-out, the Chicago Cubs handed Jason Heyward eight years and $184 million. Justin Upton got six years and $132.75 million from the Detroit Tigers.

Heyward was 26 years old at the time, and Upton was 28. One year in, neither of those contracts looks great. Heyward (.230/.306/.631), in particular, was largely a disappointment for the Cubs.

Even at age 31, however, Cespedes should be able to command those types of dollars. It’s the law of supply and demand—and you can bet there will be demand. 

In fact, it would be easier to list the clubs that won’t at least kick the tires on an athletic, 30-homer corner outfielder. 

The San Francisco Giants have a hole in left field, where Cespedes profiles best defensively, and hit the third-fewest home runs in the big leagues in 2016. They also need to upgrade the bullpen and may allocate a hunk of budget for one of the market’s premier closers—guys such as Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, none of whom will come cheap. 

Cespedes makes a ton of sense for San Francisco, though. He began his MLB career in the Bay Area, after all, playing two-and-a-half solid seasons with the Oakland A’s.

According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, the Giants are “perhaps the leading contender” for Cespedes’ services.

Ackert also name-dropped the Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Halos need protection for superstar Mike Trout and have payroll coming off the books, plus a barren farm system.

Cespedes makes his home in Florida, so the Miami connection is clear, and the Fish could move either Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna to make room.

The Dodgers have a glut of outfielders, including Cuban Yasiel Puig, but could be ready to shake things up after yet another disappointing postseason exit.

Expect the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to sniff around as well, simply because they can.

That’s enough deep-pocketed suitors to send the price tag hurtling toward the mesosphere.

Any long-term deal carries risk. Cespedes missed time to injury last season, including a quadriceps strain that landed him on the 15-day disabled list.

In the bigger picture, inking a guy on the wrong side of 30 for anything more than three or four years equates to paying for production now and a probable payroll drag later.

That’s how modern free agency works. Cespedes played his hand correctly last winter. He kept his stock high with a strong stat line and is entering a seller’s market.

In the immortal words of Fat Joe and Lil Wayne, now he gets to make it rain.  


All statistics courtesy of MLB.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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MLB Free Agents 2017: Rumors, Predictions for Yoenis Cespedes, Rich Hill, More

Spending sprees may be a few weeks away for Major League Baseball teams, but impending free agents are already appraising their worth on the open market.

When it comes to the likes of Rich Hill, Yoenis Cespedes and Wilson Ramos, there should be plenty of money tossed around when general managers descend on the winter meetings in National Harbor, Maryland.

As free agency approaches, here’s a rundown of the latest rumors regarding some of this year’s biggest names.


Rich Hill Looking to Capitalize on Surging Value

Hill split his 2016 season between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers, but a change of scenery didn’t prevent him from posting gaudy numbers.

Over the course of 20 starts, Hill went 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA, a 0.997 WHIP and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Thanks to those stellar numbers, the 36-year-old is eyeing a major payday this winter. 

Could a three-year, $45 million deal be far-fetched for the 36-year-old lefty? It’s the figure major league sources often reference,” the Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo reported. “The Dodgers could also make Hill a $17.2 million qualifying offer, which he would likely reject given the limited pitching market.”

A deal that pays out $15 million annually would justify what Hill did throughout the 2016 season, but committing that much money to a pitcher who will be 37 when the 2017 season starts is a risky proposition.

With that said, pitchers of Hill’s caliber are never short on offers when free agency opens. 

A deal approaching $50 million would feel a tad rich, but Hill should be able to field a multiyear offer that exceeds $40 million.

Prediction: Hill signs a three-year deal worth just north of $40 million.


Giants Seeking to Steal Cespedes from Mets?

Cespedes will be one of the hottest names on the free-agent market this year, assuming he opts out of his deal with the New York Mets, and he will reportedly have no shortage of suitors if he chooses to do so. 

One team stands out as a primary competitor for his services.

That would be the San Francisco Giants, according to the New York Daily NewsKristie Ackert:

Long before they ended the Mets’ season in the National League wild-card game, industry sources were talking about the Giants as the natural landing spot for Cespedes. They were ranked 28th in the majors in home runs with just 130 and 25th in slugging percentage last year, something that signing Cespedes would quickly resolve. With Angel Pagan a free agent and not likely to be re-signed, they have a vacancy in left field, where Cespedes prefers to play. 

Ackert also noted the Giants have never been afraid to spend on free agents, with Johnny Cueto’s $130 million deal standing out as a primary example.

However, the Mets are still in a good spot even if the Giants pursue a lucrative, long-term deal with the Cuban power hitter.

According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, “The Mets’ perception is that, all things being equal, Cespedes would prefer to play for them, something he demonstrated by taking their deal last winter, with less guaranteed money than what Washington offered.”

Considering the success Cespedes has experienced since arriving in New York (48 total home runs, 130 RBI, .554 slugging percentage), he should give the team that gambled on him in July 2015 some preferential treatment as the Mets seek another National League East title.

Prediction: Cespedes re-signs with Mets following intense pursuit by the Giants.


Wilson Ramos Eyeing Long-Term Pact

Ramos had a fantastic 2016 season, hitting .307/.354/.496 with a career-high 22 home runs and 80 RBI. 

However, things came to a screeching halt when he suffered a torn ACL at the tail end of the regular season. Now Ramos is expected to miss a good chunk of the 2017 season as he rehabilitates. 

Despite the setback, Ramos is still looking for a serious commitment from a team in free agency.

Although the Washington Post‘s Jorge Castillo reported the Washington Nationals not offering Ramos a qualifying offer worth $17.2 million “is unlikely but possible,” the catcher’s agent has been adamant that his client is seeking a long-term deal.

According to Castillo, agent Wil Polidor has indicated the catcher “is seeking a four- to five-year contract, which he could secure only if he were to reject the qualifying offer.”

It’s no surprise that Ramos’ camp wants to maximize his value on the open market, but it’s hard to envision a team offering him such a deal.

Rather, it’s more feasible that a team would offer Ramos a prove-it deal that has one guaranteed year and some club options on the back end as protection.

Plus, if Ramos is amenable to signing with an American League club, he could wind up easing a prospective employer’s concerns by serving as a designated hitter.

Prediction: Ramos signs a one-year deal including club option with American League team.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Yoenis Cespedes Reportedly to Opt Out of Mets Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Although there are two years remaining on his contract, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes reportedly intends to opt out of his deal following the World Series.

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported the Cuban slugger will pass up $47.5 million over the next two seasons to become a free agent. ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin confirmed the report.

Per Heyman, two anonymous general managers expect Cespedes to land a deal in the neighborhood of $100 million over four years. Heyman added that the Mets and Cespedes have an “open dialogue.”

According to Rubin, however, the Mets are pessimistic about their chances of bringing back the two-time All-Star.

While the 31-year-old missed 30 games this season, he still hit .280 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI, making him by far the most dangerous run producer in New York’s lineup.

The Mets acquired him via trade with the Detroit Tigers in 2015, and he went on to hit .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBI. He earned National League MVP consideration despite playing in just 57 regular-season games for a Mets team that went on to reach the World Series.

Cespedes re-signed with the Mets last offseason despite having plenty of interest from other clubs, and New York can ill afford to lose him. The Mets ranked 26th in MLB in runs scored with him.

The Mets made the playoffs before getting ousted by the San Francisco Giants in the NL Wild Card Game, but a third straight year of postseason baseball may not be in the cards if Cespedes walks.


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Yoenis Cespedes’ Scorching Bat Is Lifting Mets Back into Playoff Picture

Yoenis Cespedes is just one guy on a 25-man roster, and he’s still feeling a quadriceps injury that put him on the disabled list Aug. 4. It’s not fair to expect him to carry the New York Mets to October.

But darn it, he’s going to try.

This has been apparent for the week-and-a-half that Cespedes has been off the DL, as he’s come back with his bat ablaze. In Monday’s 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins, a key foe in the National League wild-card race, Cespedes played the hero at Citi Field by slamming a walk-off home run in the 10th inning.

It was a classic Cespedes dinger, so the thing to do is drop your jaw now so as not to be caught off guard by how hard the ball was hit and how far it flew:

With that, Cespedes delivered the Mets’ seventh win in nine games. Their 67-64 record is tied with the Marlins at two-and-a-half games off the pace for the NL’s second wild card. They haven’t won anything yet, but this will do for a sign of life from a club that was under .500 as recently as Aug. 20.

Cue manager Terry Collins with the on-the-nose quote, as he told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com after the game: “Cespedes is one of those guys that people pay to see him play. He’s a special guy.”

More to the point, Cespedes is a special guy New York is paying $27.5 million precisely so he can do things like this. And he’s delivered. With a .949 OPS and 27 home runs, he’s just as good as he was in his 57 games (.942 OPS, 17 home runs) with the Mets last season.

And just as that stretch helped propel them to their first postseason since 2006, the veteran left fielder seems to be trying to do it all over again. After going a quiet 1-for-4 in his first game off the DL in San Francisco on Aug. 19, Cespedes has hit .406 with five home runs in eight games since.

These numbers don’t misrepresent how well he’s swinging the stick. We’re comparing a big sample size to a small one, but it is in the interest of what-the-heckery that we’ll turn to Baseball Savant for a look at Cespedes’ exit velocity before and after his DL stint:

  • Before: 92.9 mph
  • After: 96.2 mph

Put another way, Cespedes is on an exit-velocity binge that would make even Nelson Cruz or Giancarlo Stanton blush. To boot, that bolded figure doesn’t even include the rocket he hit to walk it off Monday night. That’ll only increase it, as Cespedes mashed that ball at roughly the speed of sound.

It’s all good for now, but the specter of the Mets plummeting back to mediocrity can’t be ignored. Things are set up to lean one way or another: Either Cespedes’ broad shoulders can bear the weight of the team, or the injury bug will swallow him and the rest of the squad whole.

The latter is a Godzilla-level clear and present danger. Cespedes is part of a lineup that won’t get David Wright or Lucas Duda back, and it’s also feeling nagging injuries to Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker. Cespedes is among the walking wounded, as concern over his tender quad led Collins to sit him Sunday, when the Mets lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Any time you have the expanded rosters, it helps you, it protects you, because you’re banged up,” Collins said, per DiComo. “But let me tell you something: If Yoenis Cespedes goes down, that’s an awful lot to ask for Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto to make up for him. If you don’t have your good players, your best players, and they don’t play good, it’s tough to replace them.”

Monday’s game offered a hint that Cespedes’ quad may render him just as likely to taketh away as giveth. The one run the Marlins scored came on a Xavier Scruggs double that Cespedes was unable to catch up with.

If Cespedes’ defense is compromised, that’s yet another hit to the Mets’ run prevention. With Matt Harvey gone for the season, Jon Niese on the DL and Steven Matz still working his way back from a shoulder problem, a once-heralded pitching staff has grown thin. Hence its 4.69 ERA in August.

So far, though, Cespedes’ hot bat is having a larger impact than his potentially compromised glove. And looking ahead, the Mets aren’t exactly tasked with tracking down the 1927 New York Yankees or, for that matter, the 2016 Chicago Cubs.

As expected, the struggle has been real for the Stanton-less Marlins. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who were a game-and-a-half ahead of the Mets as of this writing, are hot, but they’re facing depth issues reminiscent of what’s going on in Queens, New York. Leading the charge in the NL wild-card race are the San Francisco Giants, who have been terrible since the All-Star break, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who are seemingly immune to any kind of consistency.

This is a winnable race for any of the teams involved. And while it’s not the same as saying it’s the favorite in the bunch, any team with a hot Cespedes is a team with a chance.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Playing Fact or Fiction with All of MLB’s Hottest Week 21 Buzz and Rumors

A month ago, it looked like the defending World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals, were nothing more than an afterthought in the playoff picture. As we prepare to head into the final month of baseball’s regular season, though, the Royals sit in the thick of the AL playoff race.

But Kansas City isn’t the only team making noise. Has an untimely injury knocked a contender out of the running? Does a slugger’s desire to stay with his current team mean that he will?

We’ll hit on all that and more in this week’s edition of Fact or Fiction. 

Begin Slideshow

Yoenis Cespedes Injury: Updates on Mets Star’s Quad and Return

After leaving Saturday’s contest against the Colorado Rockies in the sixth inning, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is not in the lineup Sunday due to a quad injury.

Continue for updates.

Mets Hoping to Avoid Cespedes DL Stint

Sunday, July 31

According to Marc Carig of Newsday, Cespedes was held out due to “precautionary reasons.”

Per Maria Guardado of NJ.com, the Mets are hoping to avoid placing Cespedes on the disabled list despite the nagging ailment.

The 30-year-old Cuban is in the midst of another All-Star season, hitting .291 with 22 home runs and 58 RBI in the heart of New York’s batting order.

He spearheaded the Mets’ surprising run to the World Series last season, hitting .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBI in 57 regular-season games down the stretch after coming over in a trade from the Detroit Tigers in 2015.

The Mets are in danger of missing the playoffs, as they are 7.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East and 2.5 games behind the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals for the final wild-card spot in the National League.

New York is just 3-7 in its past 10 games, and it ranks 29th in Major League Baseball in runs scored.

That number isn’t likely to improve if Cespedes continues to miss games, and it will put added pressure on replacement options like Alejandro De Aza and Brandon Nimmo to produce in his absence.

Cespedes has been one of the best pure hitters in baseball over the past two seasons, and New York has a significant uphill climb toward the playoffs if he is unable to get closer to 100 percent in the near future.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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