The New York Mets could come out even better than we originally thought after restructuring Yoenis Cespedes’ contract.
According to the Associated Press, Cespedes’ base salary for 2020 has been reduced from $29.5 to $6 million — a potential savings of $23.5 million if the veteran outfielder doesn’t return to full health in 2020. The original report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan only noted that New York was slated to save “well over” $10 million.
The near 80-percent reduction of Cespedes’ base salary was agreed to after New York filed a grievance and withheld part of his 2019 salary. Though they supported Cespedes publicly, the Mets quietly questioned the circumstances surrounding a fractured ankle the veteran outfielder suffered on his ranch. Cespedes ended up missing the entire 2019.
Overall, Cespedes has only played in 110 games since signing a four-year, $110 million deal before the 2017 season.
There are incentives for Cespedes
As part of the agreement, the Mets will give Cespedes a chance to earn back some of the lost money if he’s on the field in 2020.
If Cespedes doesn’t start next season on the injured list because of a right foot or ankle injury tied to his May 18 injury, his base salary would escalate to $11 million. His base pay would rise to $11 million as soon as he is on the active roster or on the IL for a non-related injury.
Next season, Cespedes can earn $9 million based on plate appearances: $250,000 each for 200, 250 and 275; $500,000 apiece for 300, 350, 375 and 400; $750,000 each for 425, 450 and 475; and $1 million apiece for 525, 550, 575 and 650.
The odd twist to this story is that current Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was actually Cespedes’ agent when the original deal was negotiated. Now that he’s wearing a different hat, he’s solely focused on recouping the money he got when convincing New York they were locking up a cornerstone player.
Cespedes, now 34, is a two-time All-Star. That included his first season and only healthy season with the Mets in 2016. He hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBIs.
At this point, the Mets are planning on having Cespedes available for the upcoming season. Though given his history, which also includes a pair of 2018 surgeries on his right heel, they can’t be completely confident until they see him on the field.
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