Yoenis Cespedes' decision could have been impacted by lockout threat
Jun 18, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder 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

With the deadline to reach a new collective bargaining agreement fast approaching, Yoenis Cespedes looked out for his best interest — or did he?

Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports, the MLB owners and players’ association are “cautiously optimistic” that they will reach a new CBA ahead of Thursday’s deadline, avoiding a lockout which would bring the league to a deadlock.

While the two sides will do everything they can to hammer out an agreement, there is always the possibility that the offseason or, for the first time since 1994, regular season could be hampered with.

The slightest thought of the worst-case scenario impacts decisions. Imperative commitments that would not be possible if a lockout were to surface.

Yesterday, Yoenis Cespedes made a decision — to the joy of the Flushing faithful — which effectively kept himself out of the mess. He ensured himself a high-paying job in a city that undoubtedly needs his services.

He ultimately ensured that the hissing war — one that would halt MLB free agency if not resolved quickly — over the new CBA would not get in his way. As a result, he was robbed of the ability to truly test the open market, weigh his options, and — sooner or later — earn a contact larger than the four-year/$110-million figure Sandy Alderson shipped to his residence.

In reality, the 31-year-old, looking for a lucrative deal to provide financial security into his late-30s, was not in search of the same relative dollar amount his previous deal guaranteed him. Moreover, he certainly was not attempting to add the 365 days he could have gained last year.

Opting out of his most recent deal told the entire Mets’ fanbase, and the entire sport of baseball, that he was not playing around.

Most importantly, he had leverage over the franchise he lifted to the 2015 NL pennant and, against all odds, the 2016 NL Wild Card Game.

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Somehow he came back to terms yet again — and New York got a superstar steal for the second offseason in a row.

Now, this is not to say $110 million is not a hefty payment. It is most definitely not to say four years is not “secure.”

Rather, this is stating the evident fact that Cespedes could have done better had he waited patiently and negotiated to no end. He earned that ability.

What the five-year veteran knew, though, is that he did not want to get caught up in something bigger than himself. Instead, he wanted to stick to what he knew, playing in a familiar and welcoming environment while collecting the biggest paycheck in Mets history — and second largest for a position player in MLB history.

All of this happening during a time that may or may not pan out in the the common players’ favor.

Some may say the 2016 All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner rushed. Those who make that assessment are most likely correct.

He was merely looking out for his best interest in the given circumstances.

Could he have scored even bigger following a new, undramatized CBA agreement on Thursday? Absolutely. But that is beside the point.

The man “loves” New York, but he did not love it so much when he walked away from two years and $47 million after a crushing “Bumgarnered” defeat on October 5. There had to be another factor that forced Cespedes settle.

That factor was none other than the ongoing CBA talks which can prevent, or ignite, a chaotic situation for the entire free agent class.

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Emmanuel hosts the Earn Your Stripes Podcast for Elite Sports NY. A Long Island native, he is currently a student at Fordham University (Bronx, NY) pursuing a career in sports broadcasting.