From almost the moment the Red Sox acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the A’s at the trade deadline, there was talk he could be dealt this off-season. The Mets, in desperate need of outfield power, are a logical landing place. But could it really happen?
First of all, I am not convinced he is being traded at all. Why would Boston trade Jon Lester for a half season of Cespedes? Obviously they felt they could not re-sign Lester, but he was a valuable commodity at the deadline. In Cespedes they chose a major leaguer who could help immediately instead of prospects. The Red Sox were not going anywhere last season. This was a trade for 2015. Why give up Cespedes before he has a chance to contribute?
There was speculation Boston would use Cespedes in a package to pry Giancarlo Stanton away from Miami (Cespedes is Cuban, Miami as a large Cuban population). But Stanton is not going anywhere.
On Sunday Bill Madden added fuel to the trade fire by writing in the Daily News that all of the Red Sox coaches “hate” Cespedes because he does not listen to them. If this is true, it would at least provide a reason for trading him. Also, Madden points out that Cespedes recently changed agents to Jay Z’s Roc Nation, which might want to make another free agency splash, a la Robinson Cano.
So let’s say Yoenis Cespedes is indeed on the market. Does it make sense for the Mets to trade for him for what would probably be just one year (because we all know the Mets are not fans of long-term, big money contracts)?
Well, Madden thinks Boston will not get a huge haul of young prospects from anyone if Cespedes is intent on going to free agency. That makes sense. So could the Mets get Cespedes for something like Jonathon Niese/Dillon Gee and a second-tier prospect? The Red Sox need starting pitching. Niese is signed for two more years at a reasonable $16 million, plus two club options, so he is controllable for four years. Gee has two more arbitration years before free agency.
That may seem like a high price to pay for just one year of Yoenis Cespedes. But if everything falls right, the Mets might be just one bat away from contention. And Niese or Gee are expendable because almost all of the young pitching should be ready to go in 2015. Would you trade Niese or Gee for a playoff appearance? I would. And maybe Cespedes will love playing in New York and would sign long-term with the Mets at a non-budget busting number. Who knows?
Aside from his possible deaf ear to coaches, the main knock on Yoenis Cespedes is his on-base percentage. In his three years in the majors it stands at an unimpressive .316. Sandy Alderson likely looks down upon a number like that.
But Cespedes has also hit 23, 26 and 22 home runs in each of his three seasons, with 82, 80 and 100 RBIs. The last time a Mets outfielder hit as many as 26 home runs was when Carlos Beltran hit 27 in 2008. Beltran also had the last 100+ RBI season last same year. So for the Mets, trading choosing outfield power over on-base percentage is a no-brainer.
Power is in short supply in the majors, and the Mets need it badly. Without Yoenis Cespedes or a similar power hitter, the Mets cannot compete in 2015. If they can get a power hitter like Cespedes without giving up one of their star pitching prospects, they should do it without thinking.