Why do MLB insiders believe Yoenis Cespedes can get a five-year deal this winter, when he couldn't get one last year when he was a year younger? What changed?
Baseball operations people tell me he is now being viewed as far more of a reliable right-handed power hitter than he was a year ago (and at previous trade deadlines), mostly because of what he's been able to do under the bright lights of New York for 18 months during two playoff races.
Yoenis Cespedes (52) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The Mets have been open to giving Cespedes a four-year deal since late-October. However, on Nov. 21, NY Post reporter Mike Puma said MLB insiders are beginning to believe a team will eventually give him a five-year contract.
There is speculation in baseball that Cespedes is holding a four-year offer from a team that isn't the Mets. However, that is all "scuttlebutt," as they say. I have yet to see it reported in hard terms, always being referred to as something someone heard from someone else. I mention it here, though, because - if accurate - it may explain why people in baseball are predicting to Puma that a team will eventually give him the fifth year.
By the way, it wouldn't surprise me to learn the rumor is being floated by Yo's people to put pressure on the Mets (and other teams) to up their current positions, which - so far - hasn't happened.
Nevertheless, despite that "rumor," and despite what Puma is reporting, I hear every team interested is still reluctant to commit to Cespedes for more than four years because they worry about his health, age and motivation after getting a long-term deal. This is not to say they won't do it, I just think they're reluctant right now.
Instead, I'm convinced every team mentioned would prefer to overspend on his annual salary if it meant giving Cespedes less years on the deal.
For instance, one team with reported interest in Cespedes has had internal discussions about offering up to $35 million a season for three years with an opt-out clause. It's basically the same deal he and Sandy Alderson inked last winter, but for 15-20 percent more money.
I believe every team interested is comfortable paying him $25-30 million per season. It's obvious he is worth that level money, there's no question about it. However, the idea that he might become complacent with a super long-term contract -- especially if the team is not winning -- appears to be a major, legit concern for every team involved.
In other words, if Cespedes gets a fifth year, it'll be because a team either gets super desperate, or a team panics and tries to jump in front of the market, or the team does enough research, talks with Cespedes and convinces themselves that he'll keep hustling and stay focused for half a decade.
To me, this reads more like how the Nationals, Orioles, Mariners and Blue Jays typically react, than how the Dodgers, Giants, Rangers and Mets tend to behave. That said, there are lots and lots of reasons why Cespedes fits and doesn't fit for everyone involved, all of which you can read here.
In the end, I still think he and the Mets agree to a four-year deal worth at least $100 million.
Will it include an option? Maybe. Will it again have an opt out? It's possible.
I just think they'll eventually get on the same page due to Yo's desire to get paid, remain in the spotlight and play with a commitment and Alderson's willingness to spend on a right-handed power and a player that can handle New York. It's the right fit. Cespedes knows it. Alderson knows it. We know it. And, I think most of baseball knows it...
However, it better happen soon because I hear Alderson has big plans and Cespedes is holding them up. So, come on, Yo, you can do it! Sign with the Mets and let Sandy continue building a winner...