Yoenis Cespedes reportedly has a five-year, $90 million deal on the table from the Orioles. He might take it, or he might hold out. Prince Fielder still got his $214 million deal at the end of January, so we're not exactly in Christmas-decorations-on-December-24th territory yet. His agents, Roc Nation, are new, and they have something to prove, so don't expect a bargain basement signing.
He might consider a one-year deal with the Mets, though.
Sources: Cespedes believed to be weighing 5/$90m w/possible option offer from O's vs. one-year deal with Mets and become a free agent again.— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 15, 2016
And now we're deep into some previously unrealistic scenarios. You'll note that none of these rumors involve the Giants. This is because the Giants are not involved. But the dropping price and shortening offseason brings up a hypothetical scenario worth spitballing.
At what point do the Giants absolutely have to get involved?
For example, take this to the absurd possible extremes. If Cespedes came to the Giants and offered to play for the major league minimum, the Giants would giggle and welcome him to the team. If he suggested he would play in San Francisco for a two-year, $10 million contract, the Giants would trip over themselves to offer it. For three years and $40 million, they would certainly be thrilled to have him. For four years and $60 million ... okay, maybe they would have to figure out a way to clear some payroll, but they would at least have internal meetings about that kind of contract.
For five years and $90 million, the Giants presumably aren't involved at all. So the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.
An important consideration is the competitive-balance tax. The Giants are over it, so take any hypothetical annual salary for Cespedes and tack on an additional 30 percent. Suddenly a $20 million Cespedes becomes a $26 million Cespedes this year, and you can see how ownership would be less giddy about that possibility. Backloading the contract would fix a portion of that, but the extra scratch would still be a consideration.
For five years, $90 million -- basically the Hunter Pence deal, which looks below market at this point -- it sure looks like the Giants should at least be curious. "It's not my money" is always the default position of the fan, and it's exceptionally ghoulish to ask for more more more in an offseason where the Giants have been generous with their spending. This offseason has been one of the biggest spending sprees in baseball history by any team. Asking for another huge contract is kind of spoiled. But that's far less than expected for a player who would help the team substantially.
The worst-case reasonable scenario would be Pence and Cespedes making a combined $40 million in three years, combining for replacement-level production. That would be awful. Until then, the Giants would have Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup. Where would he hit, cleanup? Would he push Pence to #6 in the lineup and Duffy to #7? That's ludicrous. And building a ludicrous lineup sounds so practical and desirable here in January.
The real answer would be a one-year deal. Take it away, Marty!
If the rumors are true that Cespedes is considering a one year offer from the Mets than the Giants should make him 1 yr deal he can't refuse— marty lurie (@baseballmarty) January 15, 2016
Agreed. Except if the idea is that the hitter wants to go somewhere, have a dynamite year, and hit the open market again with a fresh head of dinger-steam, they would want to stay far, far, far away from AT&T Park. Even if you offer Cespedes $20 million more than the Mets for that one year -- a one year, $40 million contract! -- he might wonder if a poor season at AT&T might cost him more than $20 million next winter. It's not an unrealistic outcome.
Add it all up, and I'm not sure there is a magic contract. If the Orioles are involved at $90 million, and they play in something close to Coors East for right-handed hitters, the Giants would need to top that. Which would still mean paying $20 million a year in four or five years to a player who will likely be declining, if not actively bad.
If the bidding gets lower than $90 million, I would assume other teams would also get involved and push the price right back up. There aren't a lot of teams still looking for outfield help, but it takes only two to start a bidding war.
I would be giddy for a five year, $100 million contract to Cespedes, but that's because I'm spoiled. If you're wondering why the Giants aren't jumping into the market now that the prices have presumably dropped, that's because those new prices are an illusion. If they want Cespedes (or Justin Upton, or Chris Davis), they'll still have to give him a whopper of a deal. Considering the financial commitments they've already shelled out, they probably don't want to take on another nine-figure contract, even if it's a relative bargain.
Don't be an outdated stereotype of a Yankees fan and complain, now.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write out a lineup with Cespedes in it, possibly with lipstick on my bathroom mirror. That would really be a heckuva lineup, you know.