The New York Mets didn’t simply pursue Yoenis Cespedes; they had no choice but to bring their organizational savior home.Admit it — when the offseason started about one month ago, you were skeptical about the jersey Yoenis Cespedes would be wearing in 2017. Big market clubs like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees could have put the star Cuban’s services in their crosshairs. The Washington Nationals, who came so close to signing Cespedes one offseason ago, could have been gearing up for another push.
All was fairly quiet on the rumor mill until news broke that Cespedes was destined to return to the blue and orange on Tuesday afternoon. The dust has settled, the smoke has cleared, and Cespedes has returned to the city that he seemingly never wanted to leave.
Multiple reports pegged Cespedes to receive a five-year contract this offseason. The fact that he settled for four (without an opt-out clause) speaks to his willingness to return to New York and the prudence of Sandy Alderson not to panic. While it also hints that other clubs were hesitant to offer a fifth year, wary of the potential of decline, and Cespedes’s attitude with a long-term deal in place, the Mets have their man and could care less about previous mitigating factors.
Simply put, Cespedes has more value to the New York Mets than any other club. Many will question whether his $27.5 AAV will be worth it on a yearly basis. However, the Mets didn’t have a choice but to bring back a player that has ben so immense to the club’s success and the re-energization of a fanbase.
If Cespedes were to have signed elsewhere, the Mets would have been in a tough position. Jose Bautista was not a viable second option. Inking Edwin Encarnacion also would have carried far more cons than pros. Adding Dexter Fowler or complimentary pieces for Michael Conforto just would not have been plausible options for a club with World Series dreams. It was Cespedes or bust, and the front office delivered.
Arguably the least discussed benefit of Cespedes remaining with the Mets is his presence in the lineup. It’s the mental pressure that he alleviates from the younger players that transcends the entire lineup. Lucas Duda doesn’t have the pressure of being the clean-up hitter. Michael Conforto does not have to be an all-star. The presence of Cespedes in the middle of the lineup allows the other eight to relax. A wise man (Yogi Berra) once said the game is ninety percent mental, didn’t he?
But wait, Cespedes hasn’t played well in the postseason, so what’s the point of bringing him back? This ideology needs to end immediately. The New York Mets come nowhere near playoff baseball in each of the last two years without Cespedes. Additionally, no player on any team would have stood much of a chance against Madison Bumgarner in last year’s Wild Card game.
Since he entered the league, Yoenis Cespedes has struggled to find a home. Now committed to Queens for the next four seasons, it will be time for him to prove he’s worth the big bucks and perform in the postseason.
Cespedes will have his critics. He’s overpaid. He’s overrated. He doesn’t hustle. He’ll now have his chance to prove them all wrong on New York’s grandest stage.