(The Sports Xchange) - After opting out of his contract with the New York Mets and walking away from $47 million guaranteed, Yoenis Cespedes will not change uniforms, agreeing to a four-year, $110 million contract to stay with the team on a record deal that includes a full no-trade clause.
Cespedes, 31, waded into free agency in November for the second consecutive seasons after using his opt-out clause to return to the open market.
The Mets, who acquired left-handed outfielder Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds last season, were not considered the frontrunners to land Cespedes entering the 2016 Winter Meetings. But the drama was short-circuited Tuesday when the slugger accepted a deal that makes him the highest-paid outfielder -- based on average annual value -- in baseball.
The Washington Nationals, New York’s National League East rival and the foe that lured free agent second baseman Daniel Murphy away from the Mets last winter, and Los Angeles Dodgers were expected to lead the bidding for Cespedes.
Last winter, Cespedes’ market never fully developed and as spring training approached, only the Baltimore Orioles appeared to be a realistic landing spot. Cespedes ultimately realigned with the Mets, with whom he was a central offensive figure in the 2015 World Series run.
Playing through a right quad injury that impacted him in the field and on the bases for parts of the season, Cespedes hit 31 home runs and drove in 86 runs in 132 games.
The Mets re-signed second baseman Neil Walker to the one-year qualifying offer earlier this month.
Bruce might not be back. He’s relatively affordable at $13 million for 2017 and general manager Sandy Alderson said the right fielder could be used to add a bullpen arm. The Mets might hold onto Bruce if they can’t find more offense elsewhere.
Bruce was acquired August 1, 2016, in a deal that sent hotshot second base prospect Dilson Herrera to the Reds.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto