By George A. King III
Yoenis Cespedes getting four years and $110 millionto rejoin the Mets didn’t send shock waves through an industry swimming in billions but strangely entangled in a labor problem, as the clock ticks on an expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Right-handed power is a commodity every team is looking for, and Cespedes likes New York and has a bat the Mets had to have in order to support a stellar rotation and stay relevant in the NL East.
What it did do was raise questions about the fallout concerning free agents Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo and Carlos Beltran.
The Yankees have interest in Encarnacion and Beltran to fill the DH spot that opened when Brian McCann was dealt to the Astros on Nov. 17 for two young pitching prospects.
An MLB executive said he believed the Mets overspent for Cespedes, and Encarnacion, 34 in January, could benefit from the deal.
“This might help him because some teams might think [Encarnacion] is a better purchase,’’ the executive said of Encarnacion, who can play first base but isn’t the defender at that spot Cespedes is in the outfield.
In the past four seasons, the right-handed-hitting Encarnacion has hit 151 homers, driven in 440 runs and posted a .905 OPS. In 2016, he hit 42 homers with 127 RBIs and a .886 OPS for the Blue Jays.
Another industry insider said Cespedes’ deal might hurt Encarnacion a little bit. Two other voices said the contract doesn’t affect Beltran because he isn’t looking for a long-term deal. Some suspect the ex-Yankee is looking at a one-year deal with an option or a two-year deal.
The Yankees have made it known they have an interest in Encarnacion, but if he is looking for five years, he might not get it from them.
“We are open, he has a target,’’ Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told The Post last Friday when asked how many years his client is looking for. “It depends on the AAV [annual average value] but a minimum of four to five years. He would like to have five because this will be his last contract.’’
The AAV of Cespedes’ deal is $27.5 million.
With the Astros, Blue Jays and Red Sox joining the Yankees in search of a DH, Beltran has been linked to all four teams. The Red Sox attempted to pry the veteran switch-hitting outfielder away from the Yankees at this season’s trade deadline, but he was dealt to the Rangers.
The Blue Jays could get into the Beltran action if they lose Encarnacion.
By adding free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick (four years and $52 million) and McCann, the Astros are in a win-now mode, so signing Beltran, who finished a three-year, $45 million contract this past season, fits their program.
Beltran, who turns 40 in April, likely is finished as an everyday right fielder, but he batted .295 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs last season with the Yankees and Rangers.
While the Yankees remain high on power-hitting right fielder Aaron Judge, Beltran could take some tough right-handed pitchers off Judge’s plate from time to time. Ditto the switch-hitting Aaron Hicks if he replaces Judge in right field.
Unlike the Mets, who aren’t dancing on the payroll tax limit (currently $189 million but expected to reach $200 million when the new CBA is in place), the Yankees are waiting to see what the number is before doing business.
They have made no secret of wanting Aroldis Chapman back in the Bronx to close games, but at what price? Kenley Jansen is an option, but the team signing the free-agent right-hander and former Dodgers closer will lose a draft pick. That is not the case with Chapman or Mark Melancon because they were dealt during the season.
As for strengthening a rotation, the Yankees have shown interest in free-agent lefties Rich Hill and Derek Holland.