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Yoenis Cespedes opts out of contract with Mets

We knew this was coming. That doesn’t make it any easier.

MLB: New York Mets Workout The Record-USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes has officially opted out of the remaining two years of his contract with the Mets, electing to test his options on the open market.

When the Mets signed Cespedes to a three-year deal with a player opt-out after one year, we knew there were essentially two scenarios: Either Cespedes plays poorly in 2016 and opts in, or Cespedes plays well and opts out. While most would agree that the latter is the preferable option, it nevertheless makes this particular moment a bit difficult.

It is still entirely possible that Cespedes will come back to the Mets for a longer deal. The team still wants him, and he reportedly wants to stay. But it will be more difficult to retain him this offseason than it was a year ago. Last year, the free agent market was crowded with players like Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. This year, Cespedes is arguably the best available outfielder on the market. Several teams will pursue his services, with the Nationals and Giants expected to be among them.

Cespedes has established himself as an absolute necessity in the Mets’ lineup. With a rotation that still ranks among the best in baseball even after an injury-riddled 2016, the Mets could make a serious run at a title over the next few years. But it’s a lot easier to see that happening with Cespedes than without him.