After outfielder Yoenis Cespedes defected from Cuba in 2011, his prowess on the baseball diamond caught the eye of several teams in Major League Baseball. Ultimately Cespedes would join the Oakland Athletics when both sides agreed to a four-year deal for $36 million. Cespedes’ talent immediately paid dividends for the Athletics as he batted .292 in 2012 to go along with 23 homers and 82 runs batted in to help Oakland win the American League West for the first time in six years. Cespedes quickly developed a reputation in MLB of being a solid power hitter, while he had one of the strongest throwing arms that the game has ever seen.
However those intangibles have not seen Cespedes remain with one team as he has been consistently traded throughout his Major League Baseball career. In 2014, the A’s traded Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox. After being with the Red Sox for a cup of coffee, Cespedes was traded to the Detroit Tigers in December 2014. Cespedes only played for the Tigers for 102 games before he was traded to the New York Mets in the summer of 2015 as his diva status was displayed on the big stage.
In just 57 games with the Mets in 2015, Cespedes batted .287 with 17 homers and 44 runs batted in to help the Mets win the National League East for the first time in nine years. Ultimately the Mets would win the N.L. Pennant that October, but Cespedes was a non-factor as he only hit a pair of home runs, while driving in just 8 runs in the postseason which included only batting .150 in the World Series. And Cespedes’ lack of production in the World Series really hindered the Mets offense as they fell to the Kansas City Royals in five games.
But unlike the other teams that Cespedes played for, the Mets were backed into a corner as they had to deal with the slugger becoming a free agent. The Mets and Cespedes would agree on a three-year deal for $75 with the ability for him to opt-out after one year.
The opt-out clause was huge as in 132 games with the Mets in 2016, Cespedes batted .280 with 31 homers and 86 runs batted in to help New York reach the playoffs as a wild card.
Cespedes would test free agency once more, and just like it was the year before, the Mets would give him a new contract. This time the Mets and Cespedes would agree on a four-year deal for $110 million, but this time there was a little twist as the slugger received a full no-trade clause which is something that the Metropolitans have regretted as soon as the ink dried on the deal.
In 2017, Cespedes only appeared in 81 games due to hamstring injuries, and without him the Mets offense suffered as they went 70-92 without their big slugger. And after the Mets were optimistic in regards to turning things around this year which was aided by their 11-1 start, they’ve only had the services of Cespedes for 37 games. Cespedes who was already on the disabled list with a right hip flexor, suffered a setback during a rehab assignment last week as he is now dealing with a quad injury as the timetable for his return remains unclear.
I don’t see Cespedes returning anytime soon for a Mets team that is reeling. Ever since the Mets hot start they are now just 28-34 overall which finds them in fourth place in the National League East, and if they don’t get Cespedes back anytime soon, this will be another lost season in Queens.
Cespedes is another prime example of what happens when teams get stuck with the contracts of guys who were only looking to get paid. In 2015, Cespedes showed what he could because he wanted to play as he was seeking a new deal and the Mets took the bait. In 2016 when Cespedes opted out of his contract, he backed the Mets into a corner as the franchise was still reeling after allowing second baseman Daniel Murphy to leave in free agency to join the Washington Nationals which led to Cespedes getting a full no-trade clause. And now that Cespedes got his new deal, along with a full no-trade clause, he can show his true colors as he simply doesn’t care.
The Mets already have $92.5 million committed to player salaries for next season with $44 million of that effectively being dead money as they aren’t getting any production out of Cespedes or third baseman David Wright. However in the case of Wright, he became a Mets icon in his 13 years with the team, while Cespedes appears to be a flash in the pan.
It’s sad that this is what Cespedes is going to be remembered for as he has all of the talent necessary to be one of Major League Baseball’s best players. Cespedes has a howitzer for a throwing arm, while he can also consistently hit a baseball 450 feet. Cespedes also has speed which is rare among power hitters as he is truly the total package. However Cespedes doesn’t have the mentality to put it all together which has hurt his reputation as well as the Mets on-field production.
In a perfect world the Mets would cut their losses and move on from Cespedes, but that won’t be the case as team owner Fred Wilpon rarely admits when he makes a mistake. The Mets will also have a battle on their hands in regards to getting Cespedes to waive his no-trade clause which means that they are stuck with him like bad credit.
In 2015, the Mets were hoping that Cespedes would be the slugger to get them over the top as New York City embraced him just like they did catcher Mike Piazza when he was acquired from the Florida Marlins in 1998. But instead of getting another version of Piazza that could carry this team, the Mets have gotten stuck with another version of Bobby Bonilla. It’s quite evident why Cespedes has failed to stick with one team, and unfortunately for the Mets they are finding this out the hard way.