Money ain't a thing already for free-agent-to-be Yoenis Cespedes, but the 29-year-old outfielder isn't taking any chances. On Friday, Cespedes told Marly Rivera of ESPN Deportes that he will be seeking a contract of at least six years in length when he hits free agency this offseason.
Cespedes is currently enjoying his best offensive season of his brief career, hitting .294/.330/.555 with a career-high 35 home runs and 103 RBI in 145 games. His batting average and slugging percentage are also career-highs, while his on-base percentage is his best since a .356 OBP in 2012. Cespedes hit .293 with 18 home runs in 102 games with the Tigers, and has already slugged 17 homers in 43 games with the New York Mets after being traded on July 31. Between his stellar offensive efforts and some solid defensive numbers, Cespedes has been worth 6.8 WAR, the fifth-highest total among all major league hitters this season.
Cespedes, who is represented by Roc Nation Sports -- hence the Jay Z reference above -- has expressed interest in returning to both of the teams he has played for this season. Prior to his July trade, Cespedes said he would be interested in re-signing with the Tigers this offseason, and it seemed like the Tigers were open to the idea.
Since arriving in New York, Cespedes has gone so far as to waive the clause in his contract requiring the Mets to release him five days into the offseason. The clause, originally designed to prevent his team from extending him a qualifying offer, was rendered moot by his midseason trade. Without that tricky bit of contract literature in the way, the Mets will have an equal chance to re-sign Cespedes this winter. He seems to be very happy in New York, and the Mets may be willing to open up payroll following a playoff run.
There will be several other teams involved as well, all of whom will drive up Cespedes' price this winter. He and Jason Heyward are the two best outfielders hitting the open market this winter, and Cespedes' big season will earn him plenty of money. His recent performance in New York may even entice a team or two to pursue him as a center fielder, though it's hard to see him aging well at that position.
At this point, it's difficult to envision the Tigers forking over the cash necessary to re-sign Cespedes. He will be 30 years old in October and has a few notable flaws, the biggest being his poor plate discipline and low walk rate. Cespedes' walk rate has declined in each of his four seasons, bottoming out at just 4.8 percent this season. With his contract all but guaranteed to push north of $100 million, the Tigers may not be willing to invest that much money in another aging talent.