With Yoenis Cespedes set to opt out of his three-year deal, it comes time for the New York Mets to evaluate just how far they are willing to go in free agency.
In a year which resulted in the New York Mets reaching unexpected heights, especially given brutal circumstances, the final outcome stung a little bit more than it should have. When the San Francisco Giants, led by the magic of Madison Bumgarner, celebrated an NL Wild Card win at Citi Field, the Mets were completely empty-handed, as if a substantial piece was no longer in the equation.
Throughout the span of a week, Yoenis Cespedes, who ignited a sector of New York for nearly two years, detached himself from an organization that continually relied on his presence. He distanced himself and moved towards an unforeseen departure following a season reeking of underperformance.
Between not participating in a team celebration in Philadelphia, stepping back from 161 games of hard work and resiliency, claiming that the good times had to wait for a win against San Fran, which was never guaranteed, and letting the city down by fanning two times in an 0-4 performance as the x-factor against MadBum, his reputation and level of respect in the Big Apple took a major hit.
His value in 2016 — perhaps more of a saving grace than the season prior — could not be denied. His raw abilities on the diamond could not — and never will — be refuted. Furthermore, the 31-year-old’s impact on a daily basis was one that could not be matched throughout the National League.
As the injuries stockpiled and the Mets fielded a Triple-A lineup, he was there to equalize the attack. When he was not there, perhaps recovering from an injury created by himself on the golf course, the fans eagerly awaited his explosiveness — that ability to change the complexion of a game with one big swing.
Sure, everyone desires that set of skills, and the clutch factor that he brings to the table. Certainly, fans know the potential consequences of letting a guy of his stature walk out of their sights.
However, when push comes to shove, the Mets should not be the organization dialing his number day in and day out, taking desperate measures to land a man who displayed little to no devotion towards his team or town.
They should not be trying to match the five-year deal that is actively being pursued by his representatives.
For a guy that constantly created sideshow, only to come up with extremely impactful hits in the regular season, and get silenced in a lone postseason game amidst attitude issues, Sandy Alderson should be taking a “show me what you got” mentality.
Wait for a team to go all-in on a guy who will roll up to spring training in a car he used half of his paycheck to purchase, transferring all of the attention from the team to his own 5’10”, 220 lb frame. Dare a team to roll the dice on the injury-susceptible body style he brings to the table — and at 37-years old, for that matter, as his lucrative contract expires in 2022.
Remind the baseball world of the reinforcements on the way and the boost Cespedes can provide, at the right — and reasonable — price.
No one in or around the Mets franchise is naive. His 31 home runs and 86 RBIs will be missed, creating a void only few individuals — or many players combined — can fill.
They will take all of it in stride, though, knowing what is on the way. Maintaining the knowledge that Neil Walker will be a much more feasible investment, that sophomore slumps are for everybody (not just Michael Conforto) and usually induce a quick, triumphant turnaround, and that a full season of Jay Bruce might just pad offensive power numbers that normally could not be fathomed without La Potencia in the equation.
If a team wants to willingly hop in and snag him, granting the Mets a draft pick by way of their inevitable qualifying offer, so be it.
Let their fan base witness doubles turn into triples as Cespedes takes a walk in the park to the warning track, oh-so anxiously picking up the ball and launching in the general vicinity of nearest infielder. Have them wonder why talent is being wasted, wanting to punch a hole in their brand new flat screen TV in the process.
Let their fanbase drool at his torrent regular season stretches, which leave everyone in awe, and cry when he plays to the tune of a .207 batting average and .328 slugging-percentage (since the start of the 2015 playoffs) when the moments matter most.
Take the “I told you so” mentality when they go through the Cespedes cycle, and he somehow wants more before it is even done — a la his time in New York.
He is valued, he is revered, and he is wanted. He is not needed.
Every man deserves his wish, particularly when it comes to the untouchable Yoenis Cespedes.
Let him have everything he wants, and probably doesn’t deserve, prior to realizing what he walked away from.
Whenever one man becomes bigger than a team, problems persist. The Mets have weathered that storm effectively, and now it is time for it to move over to the highest bidding city.