The Mets and Yoenis Cespedes will be the most fascinating free agency story this winter


While the stretch run and the playoffs still stand before us, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan takes a look ahead to the cold winter months and ranks the top free agents this coming offseason.

There’s a lot there to chew on, but the most chewable morsel is also the one most likely to be talked about before the season is over. Indeed, it’s been talked about extensively already: Yoenis Cespedes and the possibility that he returns to the Mets on a new deal next season and beyond.

Many fans have already started worrying about whether the Mets will make a strong push to re-sign Cespedes, who has been fantastic since coming over in a trade with Detroit. But as Passan notes, there’s a real chance that Cespedes is going to be seriously overpaid based on a couple of hot months:

Six weeks ago, a nine-figure deal [for Cespedes] seemed optimistic, according to two GMs, two personnel men and two agents surveyed recently by Yahoo Sports. The six now believe discussions with the soon-to-be-30-year-old Cespedes will begin at $125 million and end up perhaps in the $160 million range, a staggering figure for someone who the last two seasons posted on-base percentages of .294 and .301. Baseball, like so many other avenues in life, cannot help but fall into the recency-bias trap.

I’m not a Mets fan so I really don’t care. And, personally speaking, I like Cespedes and think he’s fun to watch so I sort of hope he gets paid. But I am most interested in that recency-bias trap Passan notes.

Smart baseball people, of which EVERY team has many by now, realize that what Cesepedes is doing right now is outlier stuff. They know that it’s very unlikely that, at age 30, he’s transformed his game so completely that he has gone from “nice power, amazing arm, could be a nice 5-hitter on a playoff team” to “the straw that stirs the drink.” Could it have happened? Maybe. But the odds favor his return to being the nice power/low-OBP guy he was between 2012-14.

Will an owner overrule baseball people who warn that, maybe, Cespedes isn’t worth a $160 million deal? Will that owner be Fred Wilpon? And if so, will Mets fans construe that as just the latest example of the Wilpons being cheap? If he does make that deal, will most Mets fans hail it as a great, long-overdue move?

I have no idea, but it will be fascinating to watch and see if a potentially bad move is perceived as great or if its avoidance is seen as bad by virtue of the last several weird years of Mets decisions.