Mets hit it big by landing Cespedes
NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes was the highest impact offensive player left on the market, and three minutes prior to the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline on Friday, the Mets acquired him from the Tigers.
With that, the Mets redeemed a week they'd rather forget and made their offense 100 percent better.
On Wednesday night, the Mets reportedly obtained Carlos Gomez from the Brewers and then they didn't. On Thursday, they blew a six-run lead to the Padres and lost by a run after two rain delays in a ninth inning that took more than three hours to complete.
Gomez wound up going to Houston, but in the end, the Mets made the better deal by landing Cespedes for a pair of low-level Minor Leaguers, one of them highly regarded Double-A pitcher Michael Fulmer.
"[Cespedes] is a very dynamic player," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said prior to his club's big 2-1 win in 12 innings over the first-place Nationals at Citi Field. "He's a solid defender with an excellent arm. He's very athletic with a lot of power and is hitting for average this year.
"I hope his presence in the lineup and his presence on the team will raise the energy level both in the dugout and in the stands. I think he could have a big impact both on the field and how the team is perceived."
In one year, the 29-year-old Cuban has gone from the A's to the Red Sox to the Tigers and now the Mets.
But this is all any Mets fan needs to know about the 2014 All-Star: The A's won two division titles and were 228-131 -- nearly 100 games over .500 -- with Cespedes before they traded him to the Red Sox for Jon Lester at last year's Deadline. They finished the season 22-32 and lost the American League Wild Card Game to the Royals without him.
The A's have shed a lot more talent since then and went into action on Friday 13 games under .500 dead last in the AL West. The Red Sox soured on Cespedes quickly and traded him for pitcher Rick Porcello in the offseason, and the curse of Cespedes continued.
Boston had an identical mark to the A's 45-58 record entering Friday and is in last place in AL East. Porcello is 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA in 20 starts.
Cespedes was batting .293 with 18 homers and 61 RBIs in 102 games for the Tigers this season. Surprisingly for an Alderson-run club, Cespedes has a .323 on-base percentage in 2015 -- 118 hits with only 19 walks and 87 strikeouts. But his .506 slugging percentage and .829 OPS more than makes up for it. His career on-base percentage is .317.
It's not Cespedes' fault that the Tigers have floundered this season, 11 1/2 games behind the Royals in the AL Central entering Friday. Without Porcello, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and now even David Price, who was dealt this week to the Blue Jays, the Tigers aren't even the shell of the team that was swept by the Giants in the 2012 World Series.
Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera have been injured and missed major portions of the season. The Tigers were only two games under .500, but decided to sell at the Deadline.
The Mets are in the hunt for either the National League East title or a Wild Card berth and are a huge beneficiary. After picking up veterans Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard, they went all in to rent Cespedes. He can become a free agent when his four-year, $36 million deal expires at the end of the season even though he won't have the requisite six years of Major League service to qualify. That's the deal A's general manager Billy Beane gave him on Feb. 12, 2012, to sign him for what was then a bargain basement price.
Cespedes led the latest wave of great Cuban players that includes Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig and now a host of others. He might be the best of the group.
"When this is all said and done, it's going to be great to have somebody come into the clubhouse who's a genuine run-producing big-time name," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think it's going to create a lot of energy in our clubhouse. I haven't been here when somebody of this kind of magnitude and this kind of bat joined the club. I just know from talking to other people what kind of impact he can make."
Make no mistake about it, the impact will be significant. Barring injury, Friday was the last night of the season when Collins will be forced to field an outfield of under-.200 hitter Eric Campbell in left, Juan Lagares in center and Curtis Granderson in right.
Though Alderson said he expected Collins to install Cespedes in left, where he has started 433 games in his short career, Cespedes can certainly play center. In fact, he came up with the A's as a center fielder in 2012, supplanting the incumbent Coco Crisp, who was moved to left. Crisp hated the move, pouted and performed poorly at the plate.
Manager Bob Melvin went to Cespedes and asked him to move to left. He took one for the team. Crisp thrived back in center, leading to a highly successful two-year run for the A's.
Collins said he'll talk to Cespedes before making a decision abut where he will play, but it certainly gives the Mets some flexibility.
"It sure does," Collins said. "When he gets here, the conversation will be, 'Break yourself down for me,' which I have with everybody. 'Where do you feel most comfortable?' I like to keep guys where they're most comfortable and not put them where they're not comfortable."
Appropriately, Cespedes will be most comfortable in the cleanup spot, where he can create some offensive havoc. Even if you're not a Mets fan, it'll be fun to watch.