Long-term future with Mets? Cespedes likes idea
Contract structure, however, would make it difficult for club to sign soon-to-be free agent
MIAMI -- The electric atmosphere that has swept up Mets fans in recent days has apparently had a comparable effect on outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. While the newest Met is unlikely to stay with the team after this season, due in part to his unorthodox contract structure, it's a prospect he says he would nonetheless relish.
"This is something I can't control," Cespedes said through an interpreter Tuesday, one day after tying a franchise record with three doubles in a 12-1 rout of the Marlins. "I don't know what the front office is thinking about. But with what I see so far, I would love for everything to work out and stay as a Met for a long, long time, because I like the atmosphere."
Since Sandy Alderson took over as general manager after the 2010 season, the Mets have only given out one contract longer or richer than the four-year, $60 million deal they awarded Curtis Granderson: an eight-year pact with franchise cornerstone David Wright. That history, combined with the organization's relatively low payroll, do little to suggest Alderson would make an exception for a soon-to-be-30-year-old who is a prime candidate for a multi-year, nine-figure deal on the open market.
The Mets already have four potential starting outfielders under contract for next season in Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto. Complicating matters further is the unique nature of Cespedes' contract, which he signed with the A's prior to the 2012 season. Though players are typically ineligible for free agency until they accrue six years of service time, international free agents such as Cespedes often have more leverage when they negotiate their first stateside contracts.
As a result of Cespedes' negotiations, the Mets cannot make him a qualifying offer, and must release him if they do not re-sign the outfielder prior to the start of Major League Baseball's free agency period -- five days after the World Series. If that happens, Cespedes cannot sign a Major League deal with the Mets until May 15, 2016.
In other words, to re-sign with the Mets, Cespedes must forfeit his right to negotiate with 29 other teams on the open market. That would require Alderson to make him a fair market offer, or Cespedes to accept a hometown discount -- and in either case, for those dominoes to fall before MLB's postseason dust has settled.
Alderson did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment, but he was in no hurry to address Cespedes' future last week.
"We'll deal with next season later," Alderson said about Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard, the four pending free agents he acquired prior to last Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. "That's not to be cavalier about our longer-term view, but ... I don't think there's any grave concern about the fact that these players may not be here next year. That's not to say that we wouldn't want them to be here next year, but that's something we'll deal with over the course of the offseason."