The Mets have their Bryce Harper already. He goes by the name Yoenis Cespedes.
In defending the team’s decision not to pursue high-priced gems Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon on Thursday cited the contract belonging to Cespedes — who is set to begin the season on the disabled list and may not play until after the All-Star break, if at all, in 2019.
“I don’t know how many teams have two $30 million players,” Wilpon said at a luncheon with the Mets beat reporters at Citi Field. “That’s a bit of the answer. We went into this offseason and Brodie [Van Wagenen, general manager] knows exactly where the target is for payroll.”
Cespedes is under contract for the next two seasons at salaries of $29 million and $29.5 million respectively. And there is precedent for a team placing multiple $30 million-per-year players on the same roster: The Nationals have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg ($35 million apiece) in that stratosphere for 2019. In the vicinity, the Angels have Mike Trout ($33.25 million) and Albert Pujols ($28 million). Expectations within the industry are Harper and Machado will receive at least $30 million apiece this season once signed, possibly on shorter contracts than originally anticipated.
In addition, the Mets won’t be on the hook for Cespedes’ full salary this season with insurance covering a significant portion of his payout as he rehabs from surgery to remove calcifications from both heels.
After the 2016 season, Van Wagenen, a former agent with CAA, negotiated a four-year contract worth $110 million for Cespedes. The average annual value of the deal was the highest for any outfielder in the major leagues.