"Without the ability to secure his future here, he wouldn't have signed here," Van Wagenen said as Cespedes' new contract with the club was announced at a news conference at Citi Field. "That was absolutely a deal point that had to be part of the contract."
Since arriving from Cuba for the 2012 season, Cespedes has been traded away by three teams and twice become a free agent after contracts with the Mets expired. So Cespedes valued having a stable home, especially in a place where he has thrived and he has enjoyed.
"I've experienced that now several times with Oakland, Boston, Detroit and then coming here," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "I didn't like that feeling of just when I was starting to get comfortable with the team that I could be gone. So that was a very important part for me."
Van Wagenen provided additional explanation.
"It's easier for players to be loyal if it's the only organization they've ever known," Van Wagenen said. "I think David Wright has demonstrated that here with this franchise that homegrown players oftentimes have a desire to be here. I think it is unique that a player that is traded for at the trade deadline signs up for another term because he had such a great experience."
Cespedes' four-year deal matches the longest awarded to a free agent during Sandy Alderson's seven winters as Mets general manager. Curtis Granderson received a four-year contract during the 2013-14 offseason, although that was for a relatively modest $60 million.
"It is a four-year contract," Alderson said. "It's not a five-, six-, seven-, eight-year contract. ... [Four years] from our standpoint was much more desirable. But I think, as has been pointed out, when you get to a certain point and your team is on the brink, you've got to take some risks financially and performance-wise. This is something we thought we could live with and, in fact, thought we needed to do."
Cespedes said he was unsure entering the offseason whether he would remain with the Mets, although that was his strong preference.
"I wasn't 100 percent sure, but what I did know was that my teammates and a lot of the people in the organization, they were really rooting for me to be back," Cespedes said. "I didn't know for sure. But in my heart, that's what I really wanted it to be."
Alderson offered his take.
"I felt fairly confident that we would be a strong contender. But you're never quite sure what may happen," Alderson said. "He signed a four-deal with us with a very high AAV [average annual value], but somebody could have come in with a Justin Uptonkind of contract [six years, $132.75 million]. Then, who knows? But I felt good that, one, we wanted him back and, two, he wanted to come back -- and that we were going to have to reach a reasonable accommodation on the value of the contract, but that given his interest in returning that was going to be a possibility."
Van Wagenen said the labor issue and the possibility of a lockout that would suspend free agency did not factor into the decision.
Alderson's next task is to trade one of his surplus outfielders. Either Jay Bruce or Granderson is expected to be dealt. Bruce ($13 million) and Granderson ($15 million) both are free agents after the 2017 season.
Alderson did not acknowledge which outfielder he would trade from the Mets' collection.
But Alderson did say regarding next week's winter meetings: "We've come a long way from no outfield to an overcrowded one. But that's a nicer problem to have, and we'll deal with it next week in some way."
The bottom line, according to Cespedes, is that he never wanted to leave.
"The way I'm treated, just the way the fans support me and this team, it really makes this place feel like home," Cespedes said.
Cespedes wanted to remain a Met
Yoenis Cespedes explains the reason why he stayed with the Mets is because it feels like home and he appreciates all the support he gets from the organization and the fans.
Mets' offense revolves around Cespedes
Jayson Stark says the Mets made re-signing Yoenis Cespedes a priority this offseason and the team wanted a deal done before the winter meetings.