opt-out clauses, cespedes, committed to cespedes

Popularity of opt-out clauses and Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes signs for three-years with Mets, includes one-year opt-out

Yoenis Cespedes wasn’t looking for a three-year deal and it was rumored that the Washington Nationals were willing to give him the five-year, $100 million deal he was, more or less, looking for. Even more rumors whispered that he was holding out on the Nationals for a sixth year.

They went further still saying that the outfielder, who went on a two month tear that helped turn the New York Mets’ 2015 season around after they acquired him from the Detroit Tigers at the July 31st trade deadline, wanted to stay in New York. After all, the Mets are fresh off of taking home the National League Pennant.

So the Mets, who’d waited out the market – Cespedes had been not been courted by many teams, was beloved by the fan base for his two month onslaught of home runs and was finally on the verge of getting the contract he wanted from their division rivals – and offered Cespedes a three-year deal which he reportedly has accepted.

What could make a three-year deal, worth only $75-million suddenly so much more valuable to Cespedes? It is the one-year opt-out clause in the contract as reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman late Friday night,

The concept of opt-out clauses isn’t new but it has been gaining in popularity. What exactly is an opt-out clause? It’s exactly what it sounds like – after the agreed upon number of years the player can choose to opt-out of their contract with the team. It sounds fairly simple and it is. It allows the player to leave the team in favor of potentially getting more money on the free agent market.

Usually used in contracts that are upwards of five-years, Alex Rodriguez started the trend when he signed his then-monumentally monster deal with the Texas Rangers in 2000. Since then opt-out clauses have been issued to just nine other players. This is mainly because the clause is the ultimate safety net for the player and not the team. Teams usually enjoy contracts that are more team-friendly than player-friendly.

opt-out clauses, round table. Zack Greinke
Zach Greinke. Reed Saxon/AP.

Most recently, Zack Greinke was able to opt-out of his six-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers after just his third- season with the team. He made $70 million over those three years and has now signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for another six years and $206.5 million. In nine years he’ll make $275.5 million. Yeah, that’s a lot. It’s more than he would have made had he remained in his $147 million contract with the Dodgers and then signed another shorter contract with a team when he finally hit free agency at age 34. 

Cespedes’ opt-out sets a new precedent. After just one year he will be able to opt-out of his deal with the Mets and try to see if he can get more money on the free agent market.

He’s most likely to do so. He didn’t exactly get the six-year deal he was looking for on the free-agent market this year at the age of 30 and his chances of a long-term contract will only decrease as he ages. He also potentially stands to make more money overall – that is assuming he plays the way he did during the second half of 2015 and not the way he played in the 2015 postseason. In the post season he made errors in center-field and on the base-paths. He hit only one home run in the postseason during the American League Division Series. 

If Cespedes doesn’t have a stellar 2016 with the Mets, he might stay with the team for the following two seasons. Even then I’m not sure what Cespedes will do. He appears to want the longer-term security and will probably still opt-out to test the market, perhaps even re-signing with the Mets. We will just have to wait and see how this latest and shortest opt-out contract in baseball history will play out.

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