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Yoenis Cespedes free-agency watch begins for Mets Saturday

New York Mets leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes looks on

New York Mets leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes looks on from the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citi Field on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CLEVELAND — Let the Yoenis Cespedes watch begin.

With the World Series coming to an end, the Mets outfielder can excerise the opt-out clause in his contract on Saturday, thus sending him back into free agency as he was a year ago.

Cespedes, 31, has long been expected to opt out of his deal. In 132 games for the Mets this season, he hit .280 with 31 homers and 86 RBIs. The righthanded hitting slugger enters the winter as one of the top available bats in a market that could bring the long-term contract he has sought after. Cespedes could be positioned to receive a five-year deal worth upward of $20 million per season.

The Mets paid a premium to bring back Cespedes last offseason, with a uniquely structured three-year, $75-million deal that included the player-friendly opt-out after his first season.

Cespedes made $27.5 million last year. By opting out, he is walking away from $47.5 million in guaranteed money the next two seasons figuring that he can do better on the open market.

The Mets hope to retain Cespedes, who has been an offensive catalyst since his arrival at the 2015 trade deadline. But like last season, they will face major hurdles, including a market that could drive up Cespedes’ price.

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