After spending the second half of the 2015 season with the New York Mets, Yoenis Cespedes took a gamble on himself by agreeing to a three-year, $75 million contract that included an opt-out clause after 2016.
Coming off a season in which he earned $27.5 million, Cespedes elected to test free agency once again. Despite having a draft pick attached to him by virtue of rejecting the Mets’ qualifying offer, the right-handed slugger hit the open market arguably as the top free agent.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Mets and Washington Nationals were reported as teams with interest in the Cuban native.
Ahead of the current collective bargaining agreement expiring, Cespedes and the Mets agreed to a four-year, $110 million contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
Sources: Cespedes deal expected to be four year, $110M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2016
Cespedes’ deal includes a no-trade clause, per Joel Sherman of The New York Post:
Cepedes gets a full no-trade clause #mets
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 29, 2016
Cespedes will earn $22.5 million in 2017, then at least $29 million in each of the three seasons that follow, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
Ceespedes breakdown: 22.5M, 29M, 29M, 29.5M #mets
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 29, 2016
Cespedes’ annual average salary of $27.5M is second only to Miguel Cabrera ($31 million) among active position players. What’s more, the contract is the largest ever given to a free agent in Mets history.
Cespedes batted .280/.354/.530 with 25 doubles, 31 home runs, 86 RBI, a 133 OPS+ and career-best 9.4 percent walk rate over 132 games, and won a Silver Slugger Award.
Although the Dodgers don’t have a shortage of outfielders, signing Cespedes would have provided a boost against left-handed pitching, which was an area the team struggled in this season.
Cespedes hit .341/.457/.624 with six doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI in 105 such plate appearances. Even with some defensive concerns, he posted a 3.2 WAR.
Over parts of the past two seasons with the Mets, the 31-year-old batted .282/.348/.554 with 39 doubles, 48 home runs and 130 RBI in 189 games.