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Nico's Take: A's, Not Cespedes, Will Foil Extension

"I've recently realized I'd like to finish my career at first base."
"I've recently realized I'd like to finish my career at first base."
Thearon W. Henderson

So Yoenis Cespedes volunteered that he "didn't know if he'll be the next one to get an extension" but "he would like to end his career in Oakland, the team that gave him an opportunity," and sure, "the A's could offer $40M and some team could offer $80M, but if the money were the same he would stay in Oakland."

Total baloney? Utter sincerity? In theory...but in practice...? Who knows. Somehow I read the quotes and heard more sincerity than I usually hear when an athlete says all the right and polite things, but I also wasn't there to hear the context or to see the look in the speaker's eyes.

However, for those who don't buy it for a minute because after all, when the chips are down the player is always going to follow the money, that's just not true. That myth is popularized by the fact that many players eye the biggest paycheck, and that many who don't still receive a good contract that, if you don't have all the information, makes it look like they took the best deal they could possibly get.

In reality, though, while "the most money" is certainly the largest sliver of the "why I signed here" pie chart, it is not by any means the whole pie. Where a player is from, where his family is living, where he's comfortable, and where he has a good chance to win, are all factors that have been known to contribute to players passing up top dollar for "also awfully good dollar". It's just too simplistic to say, "Oh, ultimately he'll just chase the most money." Maybe. Probably. And maybe not.

Here's the thing, though, in regards to Cespedes. I think it's the A's who will back down. Obviously if a deal were to be "too good to say no" -- say, 4 years, $60M -- they would be interested, but in the real world, someone will probably offer Cespedes 6 years and around $150M on the open market. Why? Because that's what happens when fiscally irresponsible teams fight with rich, fiscally irresponsible teams, for the services of a talented and well-known player. To convince Cespedes not to test the free agent market, the A's will probably have to discuss numbers in the area of $20M/year.

It's not that the A's can't afford to pay a player $20M/year. Heck, they're paying a reliever half that in 2014. It's that the A's just don't believe it is the best use of resources to throw a high percentage of payroll, or a long commitment, into one player. The A's see $20M and see how they can spread that amongst many very good players by adding a Lowrie and a Kazmir, by securing good draft picks and by scouting overseas. The A's see $80M and know that if it is tied up in any one player Oakland is walking on the edge of a precipice rather than perpetually keeping options open.

Yes, Oakland made a $66M commitment, and a 6-year one at that, to Eric Chavez, back when $66M was even more than it is today. But even that was not the level of commitment it would take to secure Cespedes, whose big league track record is far less proven than Chavez was at the time of his extension. With Cespedes it would be more money for a bigger gamble.

In summary, I'm actually in the camp that believes Cespedes has changed from when he first arrived in Oakland buying fancy cars and already openly and eagerly awaiting his free agent payday. I think his comments came from a more mature place of loyalty, appreciation, and knowing he has a good thing going with the A's. I don't know that he and Oakland would be able to agree on dollars (I see something like 5 years, $100M as being most plausible), but I suspect Cespedes would truly like to have that conversation. And I suspect it's the A's who will be saying, "I love you, but I'm not really looking for a long-term relationship."