The Mets have a problem for the 2020 season, but not a bad one. They possibly have too many outfielders.
The currently healthy outfield consists of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Jeff McNeil, or J.D. Davis. But, they have a fourth outfielder that will be returning from injury, Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes was one of the Mets’ most productive hitters from 2015-2016. In that season and a half, he hit .282 with 48 home runs and 130 RBIs. Cespedes is in the final year of a 4 year $110 million contract. Cespedes signed that contract after the 2016 season, and after opting out of his 3-year $75 million contract he signed with the Mets in late 2015. He was coming off his first full season with the Mets in which he was also an All-Star. At the time signing Cespedes to that contract made sense.
Unfortunately, since 2017, Cespedes has only played in 119 games for the Mets. He had hit .282 with 26 home runs, and 71 RBIs in those games. Cespedes missed the entire 2019 season after having surgery on both heels and suffering a freak injury at his ranch where he broke his ankle. The Mets have a few options on what to do with Cespedes.
This option is extremely unlikely. Cespedes is in the last year of his contract with the Mets, and his salary for 2019 will be $29.5 million if he is healthy. Not many teams will want a 34-year-old outfielder who has missed most of the past few seasons with injuries.
The Mets don’t need to trade Cespedes this offseason. If Cespedes proves healthy and performs well during the first half they could trade him at the deadline. Cespedes could be a fit for a team that needs a corner outfielder, or an American League team that needs a DH.
This option is also really unlikely. The Yankees recently released Jacoby Ellsbury. Which got me thinking about the Mets possibly releasing Cespedes. The only way I see this happening is if the Mets sign or trade for another outfielder and really need a roster spot. The reason this is very unlikely to happen is the $29.5 million left on his contract. Cespedes is also a fan favorite, and doing this to him would be a disservice.
Keep Him and See How it Goes
This option is very likely and the most realistic. From what GM Brodie Van Wagenen has suggested, Cespedes won’t be ready for opening day, or when he will be ready for 2020. If Cespedes is healthy he is probably the starting left fielder. Leaving J.D. Davis, or Dominic Smith on the bench. Cespedes in 2020 is not going to be the same player he was from 2012-2017. If Cespedes shows flashes of his former self in 2020, he’ll be a worthwhile addition to the team next season.
But, if he comes off the IL, and doesn’t perform well the Mets need to cut their losses and start players who will help the team win in 2020.
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