Cespedes Didn’t Take Less to Come Back to the Mets, He Bet On Himself and He Won

Contrary to the narrative, for the second straight offseason, the Mets offered Cespedes the most lucrative free agent deal.

Although it would also be nice to think that Cespedes loves the Mets and came back on a hometown discount, the truth of the matter is equally encouraging: in both 2015 and 2016 the Mets offered Cespedes the most-generous deal. That’s a good thing too, and credit where credit is due to the Mets front office.Last year, Cespedes turned down a five year, $110 million offer from the Washington Nationals in favor of a three year, $75 million offer from the Mets. The Mets deal was cleverly front-loaded, with an opt-out, as we suggested here just a few weeks before.

But as it turns out, the Mets deal was actually the most generous. The Nationals offer included deferrals of salary which, depending on how you calculated them, reduced the present value of the contract to somewhere in the neighborhood of $90 million.

We wrote here that Cespedes was wise to take the Mets offer, with an opt-out after one year, so that he could establish a higher value for himself, as 2015 was his first year as a superstar. With two good years under his belt, he could hit the free agent market in 2016 and get a bigger, better deal than he turned down from Washington while at the same time making his maximum possible salary in 2016. And that’s exactly what he did.

Now, instead of a deal with a net present value of $90 million, Cespedes has instead earned himself $27.5 million in 2015 plus $110 million over the next four years. That’s $137.5 million without any deferrals, or about 50% more than he would have otherwise earned.

Cespedes has made one final bet on himself, as well. By accepting a four year deal rather than pushing for a longer contract somewhere (with perhaps more guaranteed money but a lower average annual value) he’s betting that he will still be a productive major league player at age 35. For both Cespedes and the Mets sake, let’s hope he’s right again.