New York Mets: Re-evaluating the Yoenis Cespedes contract

SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 28: Yoenis Cespedes (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 28: Yoenis Cespedes (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

We take another look at the value of the New York Mets contract with Yoenis  Cespedes.

Remember when the New York Mets brought in Yoenis Cespedes? He hit 17 home runs in 57 games in 2015 to help the Mets run to the playoffs and eventually the World Series. Cespedes was the right-handed power bat the team so desperately needed. Mets fans fell in love and insisted that Sandy Alderson keep him in New York for the long-term.

Before the 2016 season he signed a contract with an op-out clause after one season. He rewarded the Mets with a 31 home run, 86 RBI season, landing Cespedes in the All-Star game. He struck out over 100 times but he did hit .280 which is above his career numbers. Again, Mets fans urged the team to keep him around.

Cespedes was rewarded with a four-year deal worth $110 million. His annual salaries from 2017 -2020 were and are as follows:

  • 2017: $22,500,000
  • 2018: $29,000,000
  • 2019: $29,000,000
  • 2020: $29,500,000

That is one heck of a monetary commitment. It is one that was very surprising considering who the Mets owners are. At the time I openly wondered how Sandy Alderson was able to distract Fred Wilpon into letting him offer the contract. Wilpon didn’t receive the nickname “Freddie Coupon” for nothing.

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We are in the second year of this four-year contract, so let’s take a step back and see where we are. Let’s be business people and see how the Mets investment looks to this point.

Things have certainly changed since Cespedes signed that contract. Last season the batting average was good (.292) but he only hit 17 home runs and drove in 42. Why? He only played 81 games. The injury bug caught the then 31-year-old and he missed time.

It’s never a good sign when a player hits over 100 games every year and then all of a sudden drops off. In Yo’s case, it had to do with injuries. Now, many, including myself, had a lot to say about the former regime and their training staff. Now there is a new sheriff in town along with new coaches. Let’s look at what 2018 has brought so far.

So far, the batting average is way down to .255. He has hit eight home runs and driven in 28 runs. However, there have still been lingering injuries. The team had been allowing him to work through them until yesterday:

They say that general managers typically regret the back-end of big contracts. In this case, however, what are the Mets really getting out of the front end so far? The production has been way down and Yoenis Cespedes can’t stay on the field. Cespedes wanted to stay and the Mets needed him so signing him an essential. In hindsight, the particular contract hasn’t been great so far.

The Mets can’t do very much about it if the trend continues. Cespedes was granted a full no-trade clause in this contract. If Yo says no, he isn’t going anywhere until the contract expires. It could leave the team stuck in a contract where the money is significantly underperforming.

That won’t sit well with a penny-pinching owner.

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New York had to make this move. As easy as it is to fault Sandy Alderson for many things, bringing back Yoenis Cespedes was not one of them. The criticism would have been endless if the Mets had let the right-handed power bat go. However, he is simply not living up to his deal so far. For the Mets sake, hopefully that changes.