I love opt-outs. And I love them for a couple of reasons. One, they put power back in the hands of the ballplayer, who I will always side with over the owner. Two, they are invariably exercised.
If you have learned nothing else from the past three years, you should have learned this: Everyone uses their opt-outs. Opt out if you got ‘em. Unless a player has just had Tommy John Surgery, or their leg is hanging on to the rest of their body by a single ligament, or they’ve just hit .150, every player opts out.
The reasons for it are simple: salaries rise in the Major Leagues, and they have risen especially fast and far for the kinds of players who are good enough to command an opt-out. And they don’t show signs of slowing down.
So when Yoenis Cespedes signed his three year, $75 million deal, with an opt out after the first season, it was pretty clear that this was just a one-year commitment for the Mets. Even when he told The Bergen Record in August that he would “honor all three years” of his deal, and Bob Klapisch told you you should “give Cespedes credit for his loyalty, which sounds sincere,” you should have rolled your eyes really hard.
Because now, as the rubber prepares to meet the road, Cespedes is reportedly set to walk back onto the free agent market as probably the best hitter available. At least, that’s what the Mets think, according to Adam Rubin:
The Mets fully expect him to do so. ... BTW, Jon Heyman reported the opt-out is 3 days after World Series, not the 5 days after I had said. https://t.co/dEEJZj9M1N— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) October 7, 2016
This is not a hard decision. And it isn’t one that anyone should fault Cespedes for making. Over the past two years, Cespedes has gone from a good, but overrated, player to a dynamic offensive threat. He’s hit .286/.340/.537 while averaging 33 homers and has stayed relatively healthy. He can handle center field or can be a very good corner outfielder. He will still only be 31 and could easily still get a four or five year contract.
Don’t be angry at him. If the Mets don’t re-sign him, don’t boo him when he comes back to Citi Field. You tricked yourself into thinking this was a long-term relationship. The Mets knew. The Mets planned for this. Why do you think they got Jay Bruce? They know the simple truth. That everybody...every body...every single body who can opts out.