Céspedes trying to call it a comeback (again!)

February 22nd, 2021

is hitting the comeback trail again.

The free-agent slugger intends to play in 2021 and will hold a showcase for teams on March 2 in Fort Pierce, Fla., according to a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for The Athletic (subscription required).

Céspedes' eventful 5 1/2-year tenure with the Mets ended last season, when the 35-year-old outfielder returned to the field for the first time since July 20, 2018, but only appeared in eight games before electing not to play the rest of the season due to "COVID-related reasons."

Céspedes hit two home runs in his 34 plate appearances in 2020, including a go-ahead shot on Opening Day to give the Mets a win over the Braves at Citi Field. But he ended up batting .161 with 15 strikeouts.

The two-time All-Star has only played 127 games over the past four years -- 81 in 2017, 38 in '18, none in '19 and eight in '20 -- dealing with heel and ankle injuries before mounting his 2020 comeback.

Over eight Major League seasons with the A's, Red Sox, Tigers and Mets, Céspedes is a .273 hitter with 165 home runs and an .824 OPS. He's a former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award winner.

At his best, Céspedes was a superstar on the field and had the persona to match it off the field. He led the Mets on their run to the World Series in 2015, hitting 17 home runs down the stretch after New York landed him at the Trade Deadline. He was great again for the Mets in ’16, when he hit 31 homers and finished eighth in NL MVP Award voting, a performance that earned him a four-year, $110 million contract to stay in Queens.

But that was Céspedes' last full season, as a series of injuries stemming from calcification in his heels kept him off the field for most of 2017 and '18, before he finally had surgery. His rehab was delayed by a fractured right ankle he sustained during a run-in with a wild boar at his ranch in 2019.