Yoenis Cespedes had rotten timing. After waiting four years to reach free agency, he was forgotten in an outfielder-rich market. It seems silly with the benefit of hindsight, but teams looking to spend millions and millions of dollars on outfielders had their pick. Justin Upton! Jason Heyward! Alex Gordon! And if you didn’t want to spend, why, you could just make a deal for Jay Bruce, Nick Markakis or Carlos Gonzalez.
The market was lousy for outfielders, and Cespedes figured his best bet was to return to New York as a conquering hero, limit his risk with a player opt-out, and try the market again when it wasn’t so batty.
In retrospect, the answer was Cespedes. He was the only one worth the money. Cespedes and Dexter Fowler. Everyone else was wrong. Please turn in your badge and gun. Of baseball opinions. I’m so sorry it had to end like this.
The good news is that Cespedes was coming back to bolster a contending lineup that desperately needed him. The bad news is that he hit well, he was almost guaranteed to exercise his opt-out clause. It was either going to be a win-lose or a lose-lose for the Mets. There were no win-wins.
Except, hold on there. Suddenly, there was hope! From The Record:
When asked by The Record’s Matt Ehalt if he intended to honor all three years of his current $75 million contract, without opting out, Cespedes flatly said, "Yes."
One word. It’s the word that Mets fans wanted to hear. It translates to "Yes, yes, a million times yes!" in fan-ese, which makes sense considering the only way that Cespedes was going to stay is if he either had a calamitous injury or passed up tens of millions of guaranteed dollars. The latter is preferable, obviously, and it almost seems noble. The headline would go like this:
Yoenis Cespedes gives up $75 million dollars to make you, Paul Spandin, happy
This is assuming your name is Paul Spandin, and you’re a Mets fan. If you’re not Paul, but still a Mets fan, please insert your own name. If you’re not a Mets fan, use the name of a Mets fan you know. And if you don’t know a Mets fan, you should get to know Paul. He’s nice! His number is (714) 914-4404, so give him a call.
See, that’s the only reason for Cespedes to give that money away. To make you or Paul happy. He shouldn’t do it to make the Mets happy. The Mets would trade him for Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor in a second. They would take Cespedes up in a Cessa, tell him they were going on a corporate skydiving retreat, and kick him out of the plane without a chute if helped them win a World Series. The Mets value him only as much as he helps them win and/or make money. This is why they won’t be the team that gives him five years and around $125 million after the season.
We’ve already established that players should never do anything for the fans, and the example used happened to be a member of the Mets. Paul will forget Cespedes in exactly one month if he gets hurt. He’ll spend his time looking for the next Cespedes. He’ll have 50 different trade ideas for someone to replace him. Paul is a sewer person, and you should lose that number.
Teams aren’t much better, but that’s because they can’t be. It’s a business, kid, now scram.
If Cespedes doesn’t opt out, makes $50 million over the next two seasons, and something happens to him (injury, decline) to make him substantially less valuable, where does that extra money go? Two possibilities:
- The pockets of the owners who were going to sign him
- It’s quietly redistributed among the rest of the players in free agency
Those are the options. You seem like a smart, enterprising person. Your offer is this: $50 million and Paul is happy as long as you’re winning, plus you’re making your employer (who would ditch you to upgrade as soon as possible) happy as long as you’re playing well, and you would make some of your peers incrementally richer, while still having a chance to make more millions in two years.
Or you could just have $125 million.
I choose the $125 million. Seems less messy! And please don’t start with the "nobody needs that much money" bit. That’s one of my least favorite arguments. Because 40 percent of that money goes to federal taxes, five percent goes to an agent, and 10 percent goes to the state of New York. What’s left over is still a lot of money, but look at what you can do with the $60 million you have left over.
MLB and MLBPA donate $5 million toward "support and creation of baseball development programs in Puerto Rico."— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 24, 2016
You can build baseball up in another country. I don’t know how long it will take Cuba to open up fully, and I also don’t know if Cespedes has any desire to invest in his home country. But he could take $5 million and create a Yoenis Cespedes Center For Baseball Awesomeness that you could see from space. That’s not just dumb writer speculation; it’s been done before.
And you would still have money left over for everything you needed to live a life of luxury while also setting up generational wealth for all of your descendants. You could live a life of philanthropy and luxury with that wealth — no need to choose. Think of all the charities you could help. Think of how many p
Okay, maybe this isn’t the most perfect player with whom to make the point, but the point still stands. He can give up all of these cars to make Paul and his employer happier, while making his peers a little richer. Or he can drive around in 13 different Batmobiles and the truck from M.A.S.K. Pretty sure I know which one I would choose.
This is all a setup for what’s really going to happen.
I asked Cespedes if he's decided on opting out: he said no.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 24, 2016
Cespedes says he'll leave that stuff to his agents in the offseason— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 24, 2016
I have a guess as to what the agents will do with that stuff. Because agents need Batmobiles, too.
I get why Cespedes hinted that he was going to stay. He’s having a great time. Mets fans love him. He’s a part of something. The team needs him, and there’s no way he isn’t aware of that.
But it’s a fragile ecosystem, and it would all crumble as soon as he stops hitting, and he’s aware of that, too. So when Cespedes opts out, when he crushes the dreams of Mets fans like you know he will, don’t be too quick to demonize him. You would do the same thing.
And if you’re thinking you wouldn’t, well you’re very sweet. You must really, really like Paul.