2015 has marked the New York Mets’ return to relevancy, as they’ve all but sewn up the NL East with an 8.5-game lead over second-place Washington. The Mets’ immediate focus is no doubt on capping their division crown and preparing for the playoffs. But the futures of staff ace Matt Harvey and center fielder Yoenis Cespedes are probably in the back of management’s minds too.
The 26-year-old Harvey has had another outstanding season, going 12-7 with a 2.88 ERA thus far. Cespedes has absolutely crushed the second half of this year, now batting .299 with 33 homers and 100 RBIs. More than that, he proved to be a team player by agreeing to man center field this year.
It seems the Mets have two cornerstones that can lead the franchise into the future, given that veteran David Wright looks to be past the point of stardom. But the problem is that Cespedes will be a free agent this summer while some have pondered if New York would be better off trading Harvey.
Regarding the latter, Harvey rubbed fans and the organization the wrong way when he agreed with a doctor that he should take the field a little less to protect his career. He’s coming off a year where he had Tommy John surgery and originally said that he still wanted to pitch every fifth day. However, that’s no longer the case as he’s looking more towards rest to prevent future injuries.
As for Cespedes, he’s a free agent this offseason and has played his way into a large future contract. So if the Mets want to keep him, they’re going to have to ante up some money. But that’s easier said than done when considering that this is a franchise which has tightened its pocketbook following the Madoff fiasco that had them on the books for hundreds of millions.
Meanwhile, there are many potential suitors for Cespedes, with Chicago, Los Angeles, San Frandisco, Philadelphia and Seattle all rumored to be in the market. It wouldn’t even be a total stretch to see the crosstown and deep-pocketed Yankees make a play for Cespedes too, although they already have Carlos Beltran hitting well and need pitching more than anything.
The 29-year-old has been called a “businessman” at heart, and he’s likely to take the biggest and best offer available. Cespedes should fetch at least $175 million on the free agent market – a price that the Mets ‘could’ pay, but will they?
Going back to Harvey, he’s at least locked up for a few more years. The question is only if New York would ship him out to start fresh with new players and prospects. After all, he’s complained about everything from wanting to rehab in Port St. Lucie instead of New York, to when the team suggested a six-man rotation that he worried would throw off his routine.
Things only got further out of whack when Harvey considered following the advice of a doctor and skipping the postseason over fears of a second Tommy John surgery. This of course brought up the hypocrisy of his six-man rotation complaints, which further added fuel to the fire.
But for the time being, New York has reason to celebrate their approaching playoff appearance. They have a strong chance to make the World Series if things go right. However, when it’s all over, win or lose, they have some big decisions to make regarding the futures of Cespedes and Harvey. Both are proven winners, but both provide their own dilemmas for New York management to work through.