Yoenis Cespedes
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

After missing the entire 2019 season, New York Mets’ GM Brodie Van Wagenen must find a way to cut ties with Yoenis Cespedes this offseason. 

Back in 2016, it first appeared that the New York Mets were doing the smart thing by signing outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $160 million contract extension. Since then, that deal has severely hindered the team’s ability to add external pieces to their roster.

Not to mention, Cespedes has only played in 118 games since the 2016 season.

The soon-to-be 34-year-old is entering the final year of his deal. He’s currently scheduled to earn $29.5 million in 2020, which is by far the most expensive salary throughout the Mets’ roster.

There’s also no guarantee that the two-time All-Star will even be healthy enough to suit up next season. Cespedes was involved in a “violent fall” on his ranch in Port St. Lucie, Florida back in May. That incident caused Cespedes to suffer multiple fractures in his right ankle. Up to this point, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets have provided no updates regarding Cespedes’ status for the 2020 season.

If Cespedes is capable of playing at some point next season, the Mets should seriously consider moving the Cuban slugger. Aside from helping the Mets reach the World Series in 2015, Cespedes hasn’t exactly lived up to his expensive contract.

Injuries have been the main concern for Yoenis throughout his five seasons with the Mets. Last season, a nagging hip injury limited him to just 38 games. During those matchups, he recorded just six doubles, nine home runs, 29 RBIs, .234 ISO, a 0.9 fWAR and a slash line of .262/.325/.496/.821. The veteran is also far beyond his 2016 performance when he produced 31 home runs and earned a 3.7 fWAR.

It may be tough for the Mets to find a trade suitor for Cespedes. However, a trade would be more likely if the Mets are willing to eat some of his remaining salary. If the Mets were to keep half of the remaining $29.5 million on his contract, then they’d most likely be able to complete a trade for the soon-to-be free agent. As it stands, teams like the White Sox, Athletics, Pirates and Padres could all certainly be interested in acquiring Cespedes.

Trading away Cespedes would make sense on all fronts for the Mets. With the emergence of J.D. Davis, the Mets currently have a much cheaper hitter who has shown to be capable of producing power numbers similar to Cespedes.

Davis, 26, only became an everyday player in left field in the second half of the season. Overall, Davis hit for 22 doubles, 22 home runs, 57 RBIs, .220 ISO, .355 BABIP, 136 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR and an impressive hitting line of .307/.369/.527/.895 through just 410 at-bats in 140 games.

Davis’ production this season shows he’s capable of becoming a reliable power hitter worthy of everyday playing time. Therefore, the Mets don’t have any glaring holes in the outfield or the lineup.

If there was a universal designated hitter throughout the league, then the Mets could probably benefit from keeping Cespedes around. But, it doesn’t appear that the commissioners’ office will be changing that rule for next season.

The Mets will also need to acquire a few reliable relievers for their bullpen this offseason. Currently, they’re projected to have somewhere around $15 to $20 million in spending without having to go over the luxury tax of $208 million. From what Van Wagenen and ownership have said, the Mets aren’t expected to dip into the luxury tax this offseason. That means they’ll need to find another way to add more spending money for this winter.

If New York is able to find a team that would take on half of Cespedes’ salary, then the front office would add $14.75 million to their spending for the offseason. That amount would supply the Mets with more financial flexibility to make upgrades throughout their roster.

Along with needing multiple late-inning relievers, the Mets will also need to acquire a fifth starting pitcher as well. Their farm system is already one of the worst in the league as it is. This means it’ll be difficult for them to add significant pieces to their team by trading prospects

Right now, it seems that trading Cespedes for payroll relief and whatever else the Mets can receive in return is the key to a successful offseason.

Re-signing Cespedes back in 2016 may have been the right decision back then. However, it would be a very poor decision for the Mets to keep the 33-year-old through this winter. If the Mets remain keen on competing in 2020, then they’ll need to move on. Doing that would help put themselves in a better position to accomplish the ultimate goal of a championship.

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