Mets land a slugger in Cespedes from Tigers

New York gets needed bat for pitching prospects Fulmer, Cessa

July 31st, 2015

NEW YORK -- Two days after their first attempt to acquire an impact outfielder evaporated, the Mets beat Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline by a matter of minutes in a deal with the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes.

Detroit received Minor League pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa in the trade, which puts Cespedes in the Mets' employ for the next two months. In his first year with the Tigers after a trade from the Red Sox last December, Cespedes is hitting .293 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs in 102 games. He will be a free agent after the season, and due to the unique nature of his contract, cannot be extended a qualifying offer.

Though a series in Baltimore put the Tigers geographically close to New York on Friday night, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the trade's last-minute nature eliminated any chance that Cespedes could debut in Friday's series opener against the Nationals, a game in which Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off homer to give New York a 2-1 win in 12 innings.

And it was a last-minute deal. The Mets did not begin talking to the Tigers in earnest until after Wednesday's agreement for Carlos Gomez -- then of the Brewers, now of the Astros -- fell apart due to medical concerns. About a half-hour before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Mets still had multiple options on the table. Then, at 3:47 p.m., they struck for Cespedes.

"His presence in the lineup and on the team will raise the energy level, and I hope it raises the energy level in the dugout and in the stands," Alderson said. "This is a player that can have a big impact both in terms of on the field and how the team is perceived."

The Mets are taking on approximately $3.5 million in salary in the deal -- indicating, as Alderson noted, that reports of their Gomez deal falling apart due to money were a "total fabrication."

In New York, Cespedes will play left field, where he has spent the majority of his big league career. His right-handed bat will slot third or fourth in the lineup, at least until David Wright returns from the disabled list. In the short term, the deal should result in a demotion for Mets No. 2 prospect Michael Conforto on Saturday; in the long term, it will mean a difficult decision if and when Michael Cuddyer becomes healthy. It should also, manager Terry Collins said, result in at least a part-time return to center field for 34-year-old Curtis Granderson.

Those are all concerns for another day; Friday, the Mets were in full celebration mode.

"To have somebody walk in the clubhouse who's a legitimate run-producing big-time name, I think it's going to create a lot of energy in our clubhouse," Collins said. "All of a sudden, boy, you're looking around the clubhouse and you see some nice offensive pieces that are there. I haven't been through it with somebody of this magnitude, or this kind of bat, that's joining the club. I just know from talking to other people what kind of impact this can have."

Such an impact did not, of course, come cost-free. Fulmer was the Mets' seventh-ranked prospect, the most prominent player the Mets gave up in any of their three July trades. Reestablishing himself on the prospect radar this summer after years of injuries, Fulmer was 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA in 15 starts for Double-A Binghamton. Cessa, 23, was 7-7 with a 3.98 ERA split between Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas; he was the Mets' 16th-ranked prospect.

In sum, over an eight-day span, the Mets gave up five pitching prospects for Cespedes, Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and Tyler Clippard, absorbing approximately $8.5 million in salary. Another deal or two, Alderson said, could unfold during August's waiver period as the Mets look to push toward their first playoff appearance since 2006.

"I don't feel complete," Alderson said. "I don't know if the team appears complete. But we've significantly improved the team over the last week or 10 days, and in that sense I think we're all pleased."