Mets need to plan for life without Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis CespedesIt is no surprise at all that Yoenis Cespedes has decided to opt out of his three year deal with the Mets after year one. After all, the whole idea of that option was to allow him to jump back into the free agent pool were he to have a big impressive 2016 season. And he most certainly did that.

The Mets are probably hoping that history will repeat itself in that he, like last off season, will get no big money long term offers and will scurry back to Queens. This is exceedingly unlikely since the player has shown us that what he did for the Mets after the trade deadline in 2015 was not just a flash in the pan. He was not just a good player that elevated his game to excellent but rather he is in that next plateau which is star player bordering on superstar.

Cespedes immediately becomes the premiere offensive player in the 2016/2017 free agent class. Teams like the Red Sox (freed of Big Papi Ortiz’s salary) and the Yankees (with Mark Teixeira off the books) figure to be among many suitors for his services.

I am inclined to believe Cespedes when he says that he has loved playing for the Amazins. It is even possible that he would sign back in New York if they gave him a competitive offer. It is just hard to imagine that the Mets will give him as many years and as many dollars as others might.

So what should the Mets do without their best offensive weapon?

For one thing this opens up left field for either Curtis Granderson or Michael Conforto. For another it makes picking up the option on Jay Bruce, $13 million for the 2017 season, a no brainer.

Not paying Cespedes $25 million this coming year would make it easier to offer Neil Walker the Qualifying Offer which is just over $17 million. Assuming the medical reports on his health and rehab are favorable the Mets give Walker the QO and then perhaps see if he would be interested in a three year deal for something between $42 and $45 million.

The Cespedes saving also clarifies the decision as to whether to tender a contract to Lucas Duda. Again, if the docs say he will be good to go then the team will need his power bat in the lineup. It still would be a good idea to give Michael Conforto and maybe Jay Bruce some spring training work at first base.

So the team on the field would look like:

1B Duda with Conforto and Bruce as backups. Kelly Johnson if resigned could add depth here. Please no Eric Campbell.

2B Walker hopefully but if he goes elsewhere then it could be Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, or T.J. Rivera.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera with Reyes as his backup. I would like to be wrong about this but predict that during 2017 Reyes will play more games at short than will Cabrera.

3B David Wright. We all know that counting on the captain for anything during the rest of his career is a fool’s bet. It is more likely that Reyes, Flores, or T.J. Rivera will play the position.

LF Granderson. Let’s try to keep his spaghetti arm out of right field if possible.

CF Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo. This would be a position where GM Alderson should be on the lookout for help. He should be hoping to land a good version of Justin Ruggiano. More likely he will end up with the actual Justin Ruggiano.

RF Jay Bruce. Conforto should get time at both outfield corners and at first base.

C Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki, and Rene Rivera. With d’Arnaud no longer seen as a budding star this is a spot that the team should look to upgrade by trade or free agent signing.

If indeed Cespedes moves on the Mets need to jump on the opportunity to fix a misalligned defense and pour the dollars not going to the player back into the team.

41 comments for “Mets need to plan for life without Yoenis Cespedes

  1. Jimmy P
    October 29, 2016 at 10:34 am

    The prospect of watching Jay Bruce for another year bores me to tears. A big, bland, lumbering slugger. The perfect icon for everything that was wrong with the Mets offense last season.

    I came to actually hate his dopey face.

    The Mets have been an intensely likeable group the past two years, easy to root for, a cast of appealing characters. Bruce is not that for me. He’s Hebner, the guy you suspect doesn’t really want to be here. Compound that with the strong possibility that his presence could hinder Michael Conforto’s development for another season, and, well — did I mention that I hate his dopey face?

    • Eric
      October 30, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Can’t say I totally disagree with you about Bruce.
      However, I can live with him there, especially if they don’t resign Cespedes. Let Conforto play LF but saying that I think they’ll need to find another offensive difference maker somewhere, maybe catcher, first base or 3B. Barring a breakout season from d’Arnaud, Flores, Conforto or major comebacks from Duda and Wright, they need additional talent.

  2. Eric
    October 29, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Not sure this works. Without Cespedes there’s a power shortage and relying on getting big years from guys like Nimmo, Duda, Lagares, Conforto, d’Arnaud and Wright might be asking for too much. I think Bruce will be fine and the other moving parts will give us enough depth and production even without Walker. Without Yo, they need to pick up another dynamic offensive player but not necessarily a hr hitter.

    • Jimmy P
      October 29, 2016 at 10:51 am

      We are already painfully familiar with a low-scoring, dull offense that squanders great pitching.

      Losing games 2-1 w/ barely a whimper.

      It’s excruciatingly dull, and this remains an entertainment business. Fan appeal is part of this.

      Put together a real offense and reach for excellence!

    • Name
      October 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      “Without Cespedes there’s a power shortage ”

      Really? Did you even watch 2016? This is ignorance at the highest level. The 2016 Mets just smashed their team HR record with 218 and the old record was 200

      Without Cespedes, they would have been at 187 and that’s not including the stats of the potential replacement

      • Mike Walczak
        October 29, 2016 at 11:45 pm

        Cespedes is to the Mets as Reggie was to the Yankees. Cabrera and Walker overachieved. Does Duda scare anybody? They have no speed and cannot get on base. The fans love Cespedes and to let him go without even trying is an insult to the fans and a signal that they are not in it to win it.

      • Mike Walczak
        October 29, 2016 at 11:49 pm

        Ok so they hit 200+ home runs. What was their on base percentage and how many bases did they steal? (Bottom of the league) Is it reasonable to expect granderson to hit 30 and walker/cabrera to hit 46 again? Add in Wright and without Cespedes next year you may get 150 and if they don’t get in base it will be a long year.

        • Name
          October 30, 2016 at 2:56 pm

          2016 was the year of the HR so it’s not surprising we saw many players hit career highs in HRs. We haven’t seen this many HRs hit since the 2000, which was fueled by PEDs

          Compared to 2015, HRs were up 15%. Compared to 2014, HRs were up a staggering 33%

          2016 aside, 150 HRs would be no worse than in the middle of the pack, and very likely top 5 in the NL.

      • Eric
        November 1, 2016 at 9:32 am

        Speaking about ignorance since you prefer to get personal, ignorance is not recognizing the fact that this isn’t fantasy baseball. There is such a thing as lineup balance. Without his big bat presence, it becomes easier to pitch around other guys. Who picks up that slack?

  3. Eraff
    October 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

    This is a Must Win “3 year envelope” team, and Cespedes is their Engine. They have 4-6 good, cheap arms Plus a very well paid Superstar.

    Grandy, Duda, Bruce, Walker—- That’s somewhere around $50 million of annual salary. I don’t consider losing any of the to be the death blow of losing Ces. Frankly, I’d pass/trade all of them and take my chances with a Starting Point of having Cespedes. I like my Chances with $30 million of Cespedes plus the $20 million balance of players I might add.

    • MattyMets
      October 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      What Eraff said exactly. We have enough depth to move on from Bruce and Walker without missing a beat. Cespedes cannot be replaced. We need to show him the money. Even if it means letting a few other parts walk to offset the money. That may also mean Johnson, Colon, etc. As I always preach, it’s not all about numbers. Cespedes does things for a lineup that Jay Bruce does not. It would be trading in a Maserati for a Honda. The Honda’s cheaper and it won’t be in the shop as often but it ain’t gettin anybody laid.

      • Chris F
        October 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        Mistake #1, everyone can be replaced. Believing otherwise leads to disastrous outcomes.

  4. October 29, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    There is not a simple solution to this mess. If Mets lose Ces, it will sting bad. All the power would come from the left side – Duda, Grandy, Bruce. Perhaps Walker stays and can provide good hitting as a RH bat, but how can Mets really depend on Walker (back) David Wright and d’Arnaud a full year ? They cannot. Need a RH bat to replace Cespedes, and Bautista is not the answer.Mets need to look at trade possibilities to offset such a loss.Pitching is always in demand and Mets will have plenty of that. It may be time to trade some. I just don’t see a lineup of Conforto in LF, Grandy / Lagares CF, Bruce RF, Duda 1B, Walker 2B, Cabrera SS, Wright 3B, d’Arnaud C, and supersub Reyes as enough to beat out the likes of Nats, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers to get back to the World Series.
    A dynamic RH bat is needed to offset any Cespedes loss. I wish there was a Johnny Bench at C available for trade !

    • Chris F
      October 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Totally agree, the lack of RH hitting is a giant issue. This team, as we have seen, melts facing lefty’s. The loss of Ces is a near certainty at this point. Addressing the bull pen and C is a big issue. I just wish we landed Lucroy.

      • Name
        October 29, 2016 at 3:01 pm

        “This team, as we have seen, melts facing lefty’s.”

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=1&season=2016&month=13&season1=2016&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=16,d

        Mets were 7th in wRC when facing lefties. Another fan myth that is not true.

        • Chris F
          October 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm

          I meant L v L. We have the lowest BA in the NL.

          • Name
            October 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm

            That doesn’t relate back to your original point.

            ” the lack of RH hitting is a giant issue. This team, as we have seen, melts facing lefty’s.”

            If i have to say something nice about Wilmer, it’s that he can at least hit LHP.

            When healthy, Wright is a lefty killer as well. Cabrera hit well against lefties last year. Reyes, in his limited ABs, hit .380 and slugged half his HRs against lefties. Maybe it was a fluke, but in 2015, TDA feasted on LHP.

            THe major lefty on lefty player over the last 2 years has been Granderson, who has accounted for 30-40% of those PA.
            In 2015 he was terrible, but in 2016, he held his own.
            If he goes back to stinking against lefties like in 2015, maybe this is the year that it’s finally time to stop playing him everyday.

  5. Name
    October 29, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    “Cespedes immediately becomes the premiere offensive player in the 2016/2017 free agent class”

    Not true at all. There are a bunch of guys who are in the same class or better than Cespedes because they’ve done it longer.

    There’s Edwin Encarnacion, who had a similar offense season this year, but has far outclassed Cespedes the prior 4 years. He’s probably the best offensive player in the FA class.

    There’s aging star Bautista, who had a down year while battled numerous injuries and yet was almost as good as Cespedes.

    There’s Justin Turner, who has an OPS 20 points higher than Cespedes over the last 3 years.

    If you wanted, you could even include Dexter Fowler, who had a career year (driven by BABIP) and is getting the benefit of WS exposure this year.

    Carlos Beltran before the trade to Texas was also in the midst of a monster season and overall still had a great year for a 39 yr old.

    And there’s also the 2016 HR leader Mark Trumbo.

  6. TexasGusCC
    October 29, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I am of the group that thinks Cespedes stirs the drink. Without him, the record and production both stunk. In the GM exercise, when Matt traded both Bruce and Granny, he did the Mets a huge favor. It’s time the Mets got younger and got more hitters that aren’t so perplexed by shifts and value hitting the ball, and maybe a GM that does also. When pitchers bear down and make better pitches, hitters need to adjust their approach.

    Life is fun when everything is going well, but players that can give you an RBI without a hit or that can make contact when contact needs to be made, is what winning teams are made of. Let’s not excuse five months of futility and only remember September.

  7. Metsense
    October 29, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Since the article is about the premise of life without Cespedes, that is what I will address. Bruce has his option picked up. Push hard to sign Walker. Sign Dexter Fowler as a free agent which solves the OBP/lead off position. Now Bruce or Granderson is the odd man out so trade one maybe to the Yanks for McCann.If not then see what Granderson, Bruce, Lagares, Conforto and Nimmo could get on the trade market. If Walker is signed for 3+ years then add TJ and Cecchini as more trade chips. If a catcher can’t be had with these chips then sign Jason Castro as a free agent who bats from the left side and is a better offensive and defensive catcher than Rivera. Life with out Cespedes is doable thanks to the Met pitching staff.

    • MattyMets
      October 30, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Brian McCann makes zero sense for the Mets and I’m tired of seeing his name thrown out there. He’s old, expensive and left handed. We already have the market cornered on those guys. Should we get Ryan Howard too?

      • October 30, 2016 at 9:01 pm

        +1

        He’s also caught more games in his career than Jerry Grote so there’s no telling when his defense goes.

  8. Mike Walczak
    October 29, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    I am telling you, they need Freeman hitting third and Cespedes hitting fourth. Or as Cheapskate Alderson is planning it, it will be Cabrera and Duda. The Mets now have a 4 year window. Go for it. But Sandy won’t.

  9. Mike Walczak
    October 30, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Ok, here is the fantasy lineup I would like to see.

    1. Billy Hamilton
    2. David Wright
    3. Freddy Freeman
    4. Yoenis Cespedes
    5. Brian McCann
    6. Asdrubal Cabrera
    7. Michael Conforto
    8. TJ Rivera/Wilmer Flores

    • Chris F
      October 30, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      I mean seriously, if you are just going to be silly, why on Earth have a platoon at *any* position of Rivera and Flores. I mean you have somehow managed to wrangle Freddy Freeman from John Hart, after he emptied everyone on the Braves but Freeman, and you want Billy Hamilton – a 4th OF at best, Ren/Stimpy platooning at ?, a broken Met hero who cannot field a position, and a washed up lefty hitting C. If you are gonna reach for the stars, might just as well go for it instead of making believe such a line up is possible, or productive.

    • TexasGusCC
      October 30, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      I would agree wthat th Billy Hamilton because he adds a dimension the Mets don’t have. Also, his second half was pretty good, but not great. If he’s cheap, I’d get him. But, you need to unload alot of players to make room for him and hopefully Cespedes, and you are effectively blocking Nimmo, who is ready for prime time.

      There’s always a way, but right now the Mets would need to make several moves to get to that point. Lagares, Bruce, and Granderson all would need to be moved.

      Assuming Freeman isn’t available:
      Hamilton
      Conforto
      Cespedes
      Walker
      Cabrera
      Duda
      Wright
      TDA

      That’s pretty good, and balanced.

      • TexasGusCC
        October 30, 2016 at 7:22 pm

        When Reyes goes in for Wright, he bats second and everyone moves down a spot.

        • TJ
          October 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

          Not big on the Hamilton move. Also, retaining Cespedes is the preference, but not essential if it requires a grossly inflated deal. That said, replacing him will require one big RH bat and one legit RH bat at C. I’d also lie Bartolo back but not if it requires the 2nd year.

  10. TexasGusCC
    October 31, 2016 at 12:24 am

    What I would like to know is why Alderson can give Granderson four years at age 32, offer Zobrist 3 years at age 35, but nor give Cespedes, a better all around player, five years at age 31?

    • Name
      October 31, 2016 at 1:32 am

      Because they were seeking about half the annual salary Cespedes is thought to be shooting for

      If he wants 5 years and 80 million sign me up

      • TexasGusCC
        October 31, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        $16MM is less that the QO, that seems a bit low, no?

        • Chris F
          October 31, 2016 at 6:25 pm

          Sure, but that misses the point Gus. Alderson is not going 5/120 or what ever. Grandy is 4/60, Zobrist was something like 3/60 – nothing near what the expectation is for Ces. And Aldseron will never hand out another 5 yr deal to any player unless its arb buyout or someone that got to FA very young. There’s plenty of evidence most of those contracts are total losers. I get it, the Mets record with Ces playing is much better than not. But that wont open the wallets no matter how much fans scream.

          • TexasGusCC
            November 1, 2016 at 1:04 am

            Chris, we all want the sure thing, but five year deals have been pretty good, see Pence on the Giants or even Ian Kinsler, when a team resigned its own player; they knew what they were getting. Most often, the deals that didn’t work out were all the ten year deals, except the first A-Rod deal, and when a player jumps to another team.

            If the Mets offered Cespedes a 5/100 (the Nationals did 5/110 with deferred money), I would think he takes it and they’d be happy through his age 35 season. But, how do you offer Zobrist 3/60 at age 35 or Granderson 4/64 at age 33 and not offer Cespedes 5/100 at age 30?

            The Alderson miser approach to stars but gives Chris Young $7.5 and de Aza $5.5 is rediculous.

            • Chris F
              November 1, 2016 at 11:04 am

              That thinking conflates different aspects of exposure. If Ces turns into a slacker, golfing every day, and not on the hook to perform, I think Alderson sees a trash can fire of million dollar bills. That even came up last season. But the totality of financial exposure is real. 100 million dollars of committed cash is a lot more than 60 million dollars. Also dont forget Ces is not in the 25M$ bracket, and we even paid a bit more this year. A 5/100 contract reduces AAV to 20M$. I dont see him or RocNation or MLBPA permitting that. Then you have the comps, and say Heyward’s contract. Ces is better, and you can bet it will look like like 4/120 or 5/125 to be in his window. Neither of those is coming from the Wilpon’s is my guess.

              • TexasGusCC
                November 1, 2016 at 12:27 pm

                Isn’t that the risk of any free agent, that they may not care as much (see Lagares his first year when he gained all that weight)? However, free agency is about filling your holes at a player’s price. The teams have six years of control, then they need to spend. None of us like to spend, but the team likes it when customers fork over money for tickets, no?

                • Chris F
                  November 1, 2016 at 12:34 pm

                  Alderson was hired to eliminate those contracts. He did. He aint going back.

                  I think you need to work with more than the ethereal world of “supposed to go like this” to a real world of financial contraints and budgets etc

                  And sure, you can say what you want about Lagares, but the total exposure is peanuts. Thats not a fair thing to compare against Ce$$$$$.

                  What makes you think FA is the only route? Anyway, if they dont get Ces, Id go after Weiters and Miller/Jansen/Chapman in FA. Like it or not, Familia is not a big time closer.

                • Larry Smith
                  November 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

                  No big money free agent contract is risk-free but it seems to me that the Mets have usually gotten burned (Bonilla, Bay, Vince Coleman, Luis Castillo etc) when they’ve brought veterans in from other teams.
                  Whether it is Cespedes they bring back or Neil Walker I feel a bit more confident when a guy has played in Queens successfully.

  11. Eric
    October 31, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Sign him now. That”s a bargain!

  12. Eraff
    November 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

    McCann is a very nice Match for the Mets, if you “buy” him as a Catcher. If you could trade one of Duda, Bruce, or Grandy for him, it would make sense. I would lean toward keeping Grandy as a Rover— he’s still a good all-around baseball player.

    Is there a Yanks Match????…can McCann (still) Catch?

    • Chris F
      November 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      no. terrible terrible fit. the Yankees dont need or want him with Sanchez, even at Yankee stadium which is ideal for a power hitting lefty. The last catcher we need is an aging, slumping, lefty hitter. Any serious power bats that dont hit from the right side will be a huge mistake.

  13. Eraff
    November 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Mets will re-sign Yo!!! 25-30 Million of Yo, Plus 20-25million of other players is > 50 million of Grandy-Bruce-Duda-Walker.

    The Mets will sign Cespedes to a Huge 5 year deal, including opt out provisions that will lock him in for 3 years and provide him with an opt out at his age 33/34 season—it will build on the philosophy and the Rich Reward of his present Contract. I have posted details before, but Ces will see a $140-150 over 5 years….

    Years 1-3:…30-30-30…
    Year 4: Ces OpOut/25in 4th year….
    Year 5 Met’s 10 million optout/25 million.

    … if the Mets opt out at the beginning of year 5, Ces will have received 30/30/30/25/10=125 over 4 years. if he stays through the contract, he’d get $140. I anticipate something along these lines. Possible that the specifics would be tweaked to provide for a $150 package.

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