Yoenis Cespedes
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets and Brodie Van Wagenen expect Yoenis Cespedes to return to MVP form which is more optimistic than earlier reports.

The New York Mets failed to sign anyone to hold down the middle of the lineup this offseason. They didn’t go after Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, or even Mike Moustakas. Instead, they’ll wait for Yoenis Cespedes to return to MVP form, whenever that may be.

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen firmly believes that Cespedes will return to form when he returns from surgeries on both of his heels last summer.

“We expect him to be an MVP-caliber player when he comes back,” Van Wagenen said to David Adler of MLB.com on Monday. “And I know he does as well.”

The Mets need Yo to be the power bat they thought he would be when they signed him to a four-year, $110 million deal in advance of the 2017 season.

But when will Cespedes return? That’s another story entirely.

“I don’t think we’ll have an idea during Spring Training,” Van Wagenen said. “Our expectation is that he can make progress every day, that we build him up in a smart fashion so that we’re not taxing him too soon. We want to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy when he comes back, whenever that day is.

“We’re counting on him to make a contribution in ’19. We’re counting on him to make a contribution in ’20. Hopefully he continues to make progress.”

Van Wagenen sounds optimistic about Cespedes’ possible return in 2019, but this flies in the face of what assistant to the general manager Omar Minaya said in January. Minaya said that whatever Cespedes provides in 2019 will be “gravy.” This implies that the Mets aren’t banking on the right-handed slugger’s return this season.

That being said, Van Wagenen’s optimism is refreshing. The only worry is that he might start writing checks that Cespedes’ heels can’t cash.

It’s no secret that Cespedes is one of the most injury-prone players in the MLB. Since signing his four-year deal, Yo has only appeared in 119 games out of a possible 324. But his numbers are excellent when he plays. He’s slashing .282/.343/.525 in his last two seasons.

If he can get back on the field and stay healthy, he should be the stud that he’s always been. But getting back on the field is easier said than done.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.