clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Yoenis Cespedes returns to the Mets

New, comment

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets!

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes wasn't supposed to come back to the Mets. The Mets weren't supposed to dole out the money to keep the Cuban slugger. To pony up and spend has not been the Mets' modus operandi in the post-Madoff world. It was very well understood that once Cespedes arrived in Flushing that he would not be coming back, the Wilpons simply wouldn't allow it. And so the World Series ended, and Cespedes wandered to free agency. It was supposed to be the end.

Neil Walker arrived, and Asdrubal Cabrera followed him. The lovable Bartolo Colon returned, as did Jerry Blevins. Antonio Bastardo was brought in to shore up the bullpen, and Alejandro De Aza came to town. The greatest sin of all, mediocrity, was brought to the Mets' doorstep, like a dead squirrel from the jaws of a cat. De Aza, a pretender to the throne of center field. Cespedes is no maestro there, but De Aza is worse. He is a worse hitter, a worse defender, and most of all, he is not Cespedes. Though the Mets had a perfectly adequate, and actually somewhat admirable winter without Cespedes, it all felt lesser than whole without him.

Not anymore. After nearly losing him to the hated rival Washington Nationals, the Mets have re-signed Cespedes to a three year, $75 million dollar deal. The contract includes an opt-out clause after the first year. His $25 million average annual salary is tied for the highest rate of all time. If he opts out after the first year, he'll walk away with $27.5 million.

The Nationals reportedly offered Cespedes $100 million over five years, but he has opted to stay in New York and take a higher AAV. The opt-out clause also allows him to dive into a 2016 free agent class that seriously lacks talent. There's a good chance that the two years following the opt-out clause are naught but window dressing for a humongous one-year pillow deal. It's not as much a three-year deal as much as it's a one-year deal with a two-year player option. Even if it is, it's a massive victory for the Mets and their fans.

How could they not have fallen so deeply in love with him? In 57 games, he launched 17 home runs deep into the night while hitting .287/.337/.604. He was worth 2.7 fWAR in that short span. The 6.7 fWAR he posted between New York and Detroit were far and away the most he's ever posted in a single season, and it's more than likely that he will fall back down to Earth in incredible fashion in 2016. In reality though, it doesn't matter.

The Mets are a complete team, center field defense or not. Consider this possible lineup:

  1. Curtis Granderson
  2. Neil Walker
  3. Yoenis Cespedes
  4. Lucas Duda
  5. David Wright
  6. Travis d'Arnaud
  7. Michael Conforto
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera
  9. Pitcher
That's good. That's incredibly, ridiculously good. That lineup, if it stays healthy, should produce at least ten home runs from every non-pitcher spot. Whether or not Wright stays healthy for even most of the season is anybody's guess, and the same goes for d'Arnaud. Regardless, it's an incredibly robust lineup, possibly the best in the National League with exception of the Cubs. It also puts De Aza firmly on the bench, where he joins Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Ruben Tejada and Kevin Plawecki ------ that's a very strong bench. The Mets have what may be the best rotation in the NL, and an improved bullpen. They're set up for run back to the playoffs.

In the next few years, the Mets rotation will become expensive, either through salary arbitration or extensions. There are only so many shots New York will get at a World Series while their excellent young core is affordable. The time to contend and finish what they started last October is now.

Yoenis Cespedes is not a superstar. He isn't Mike Trout, nor is he Bryce Harper. He's a powerful if OBP-deficient left fielder pretending to be a center fielder. His throwing arm was blessed by the baseball gods themselves, and when he really gets into a pitch, he can make any stadium look small. He may only stay in Queens for one more year, but nearly all Mets fans would say that it's worth it. We may never know whether or not the fans' furious howls demanding that Cespedes return were the deciding factors in the Wilpons taking Sandy Alderson off the leash and letting their GM do what needed to be done, but in the end, it's largely irrelevant.

For one small moment, though, and for at least one season, Mets fans can rejoice. What was lost has been found. The Mets didn't need a Mike Trout or a Bryce Harper to make them great. They needed a Cespedes. They have one now. The payroll has ballooned to near $140 million. That's small for a major market team but it's manna from heaven for Mets fans.

The Mets are going to win the NL East. They're in excellent position to make it back to the World Series. It's a day of celebration for the Mets faithful. Welcome back, Mr. Cespedes.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Mets.

...

Nicolas Stellini is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. He also covers the Yankees at BP Bronx. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.