Now that the Mets have reached an agreement with Yoenis Cespedes to reduce his contract for the 2020 season, as reported by SNY's Andy Martino, what exactly could the team look to do with the extra cap space?
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Cespedes' salary for 2020 was cut from $29.5 million to less than $10 million, though he could make back $20 million via performances bonuses.
So the first question is how exactly does the Cespedes situation affect the Mets in terms of the luxury tax? Former MLB GM and current SNY analyst Jim Duquette broke down the situation on Baseball Night in New York.
"Remember now, I know he's paid $29.5 (million), but his average annual value, which is what the luxury tax is based off of, is $27.5 (million), so let's say it was $10 million that they saved … If they're lucky enough to try to move Jed Lowrie and get somebody to take back some of the salary, let's say they get back half of the money savings on a Lowrie contract, that would be another, in theory $5 million. So you start to see cases where the Mets can free up some money to be able to add to their roster.
"By the way, it only matters where your luxury tax number is at the end of the season, so even if they were to go over slightly, they'd have the opportunity in-season to try to subtract and get below it too. So it gives them a lot more flexibility to be more aggressive and improve the team without having to pay the tax over that $208 million."
At the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the Mets added Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, and while GM Brodie Van Wagenen has said that those additions also help bolster the bullpen since Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman will be staying in the pen, SNY's Anthony McCarron wants to see the Mets add some bigger-name relievers.
"I want them to improve that bullpen. We've talked about it over and over again," McCarron said. "They haven't made any additions to the bullpen, and I don't buy the idea that Lugo and Gsellman are additions to the bullpen because they're not going to be starters now, because they have, as Brodie put it, the deepest rotation in baseball.
"So start signing some high-end relievers. I'd like Dellin Betances on this team to start with, and then add another Betances-esque arm to it as well, especially if the money works out, but get some more inventory in that bullpen."
Meanwhile, Doug Williams questioned whether or not this Cespedes news could help the Mets reignite some of the trade talks they previously been linked to.
"Does this bring them back into a potential Mookie Betts deal? Does this make somebody like Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa even more possible, all set to earn a lot of money in arbitration? These are guys under team control. Mookie Betts if going to make just south of $30 million dollars," said Williams.
"You thought before this news 'Oh it's an interesting idea, but there's no chance they can afford a contract of that level.' That may be changing now."