This year’s class of free agents around Major League Baseball is considered one of the weakest in many years. And it just got that much weaker for every team but the New York Mets after they re-signed slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes this week. That boosted the Mets’ futures on SBR Forum’s top betting sites to +1000 to win the 2017 World Series.
Cespedes was one of the top free agents last off season as well but signed a three-year, $75 million deal to return to the Mets that in reality was a one-year $25 million contract. Barring injury or a terrible 2016 season, Cespedes was always going to test the market again, especially as the most-coveted hitter out there in 2016. This time, it’s a legitimate four-year, $110 million deal with the Mets and Cespedes gets a full no-trade clause.
The Mets don’t reach the 2015 World Series without Cespedes after acquiring him mid season from the Detroit Tigers. He was a terror in the National League, hitting .287 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs in just 57 games. New York won the NL East Division, upset the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and then the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS before losing in five games to Kansas City in the Fall Classic.
New York was the second-favorite at sports betting sites to win the 2016 NL pennant but the team barely snuck into a wild-card spot because its vaunted pitching staff was ravaged by injuries to the likes of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. New York then lost in the wild-card game to San Francisco. Cespedes hit .280 in 132 regular-season games and led the team with 31 homers and 86 RBIs. He missed some time with a quad injury.
Even though the Mets are a big-market team, they don’t spend like one usually because of some financial problems with ownership. Thus it was thought a club like the Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers would win the bidding for Cespedes. He gets $22.5 million in 2017, followed by $29 million in 2018-19 and $29.5 million in 2020. His average annual value of $27.5 million is the highest ever for an outfielder.
This signing does mean the Mets are likely to trade right fielder Jay Bruce, who was acquired at the 2016 trade deadline from the Cincinnati Reds. Bruce is a lefty hitter who just doesn’t fit, is a very poor defender and is due $13 million next year. The Toronto Blue Jays are considered a possibility as Bruce is Canadian.
The Mets also got good news earlier this off season when second baseman Neil Walker accepted the team’s one-year qualifying offer. Walker, acquired last off season from Pittsburgh, hit .282 with 23 homers and 55 RBIs in 113 games before his season ended early with back troubles.
The Chicago Cubs remain the heavy favorites at SBR Forum’s top betting sites to repeat as National League champions. But the Mets are now right there in the second tier with the Nationals and Dodgers. Don’t expect any more big additions for New York — the Mets simply need to get all their young starting pitching healthy.
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