Mets Need to Make a Piazza Move On Cespedes

Back in the 1998 offseason, neither the Mets nor Mike Piazza were messing around. Before the end of the World Series, which is the time players could file for free agency, the Mets made the 30 year old Piazza the highest paid player in the sport by giving him a seven year $91 million contract. With that Piazza got to stay in the place he wanted to play, and the Mets got their superstar who would lead them to consecutive postseason appearances and would become the team’s second Hall of Famer.

This is the stage the Mets and Yoenis Cespedes are at right now.

Cespedes has until three days after the end of the World Series to opt out of the remaining two years of his contract. Given the terrific, yet injured plagued, season he just had, he is widely expected to opt out to seek a more lucrative contract in the free agent market. Unlike last season where players like Justin Upton and Jason Heyward were free agents, Cespedes stands alone as the top free agent target for any team that needs to add an outfielder, a bat, and a superstar.

There have been conflicting reports about Cespedes’ desire to remain with the Mets. However, if the last year and a half have been any measure, Cespedes has enjoyed being a Met, and he has blossomed as a player playing in New York. He has worked well with Kevin Long to improve his approach at the plate getting on base more often and hitting for more power. He has an organization that allows him to be the person he is by letting him play golf and show off his car collection. He also has a fan base that adores him and pleads for him to stay with the team day and night.

The Mets have also greatly benefited from Cespedes’ duration in New York. Cespedes and Piazza are the only two superstars who have led the Mets to consecutive postseason appearances. The fans love of Cespedes helps increase the gate and merchandise sales. More importantly, Cespedes presence in the lineup and the Mets outfield give the Mets the best possible chance to win a World Series.

Given that, the time between the end of the Wild Card Game and the end of the World Series should be spent with the Mets and Cespedes’ agents, Roc Nation, trying to reach an agreement to keep Cespedes on a contract that pays him commensurate value. Most likely, Cespedes has a a price he would agree to right now in order to stay. Similarly, there is most likely a price the Mets would be willing to offer Cespedes to entice him to stay. If there is a will, there can be a meeting of the minds before any other team is able to make an offer to Cespedes.

If a deal is not reached it means one of three things: (1) Cespedes wanted to hit the free agent market; (2) the Mets are not willing to pay what it takes to keep Cespedes; or (3) both sides failed to put forth their best efforts to get this done. If any of these are the case, it is a shame, and it may be a decision both sides will rue for years to come.

For what it’s worth, the Mets appear willing to take that risk.

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on Mets Merized Online