Yoenis gives glimpse of potential in showcase

March 2nd, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- showed off impressive power and arm strength at his free-agent showcase on Tuesday, according to multiple people in attendance, as he looks to hook on with a team for 2021.

Céspedes took batting practice and fielded fly balls for close to a dozen teams -- including the Blue Jays, Brewers, Rays, Tigers, Padres and White Sox -- at a Fort Pierce, Fla., field not far from his ranch. One talent evaluator noted that Céspedes’ power remains impressive at age 35, but that his outfield mobility is limited.

“He can go be someone’s DH,” the scout said.

Céspedes had been slated to serve as the Mets’ primary designated hitter last season, but he appeared in only eight games before electing not to play the rest of the season. Céspedes hit .161/.235/.387 with two home runs in those contests.

Working against Céspedes is the fact that he has not played regularly in the Majors since May 2018. Two months later, Céspedes announced that he needed multiple surgeries to remove calcification from both heels. During his subsequent recovery, Céspedes suffered a setback when he fractured his right ankle in a ranch incident involving a wild boar.

From 2012-18, the Cuban defector established himself as one of the game’s most feared sluggers, hitting 163 home runs with an .826 OPS. Seventeen of those homers came during a 31-game stretch late in 2015, after the Mets acquired him from the Tigers in a Trade Deadline deal. The Mets re-signed Céspedes after the season, then re-upped him a second time when he opted out following the 2016 season. He subsequently signed a four-year, $110 million deal, which the Mets eventually restructured to remove significant guaranteed money following his ranch accident.

The Mets did not send a scout to Céspedes’ showcase.

Among the teams that did were the White Sox, who recently signed Céspedes’ 23-year-old half-brother, Yoelqui, to a $2.05 million deal. Before signing, Yoelqui Céspedes spent time training with his brother, who bought him a home near his own on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

“I think I’m even more excited for him than I was when I first signed,” Yoenis Céspedes said last year. “I think at the age he is right now, and the resources, the conditions that he has to be able to play -- I think they’re much better than what I had when I first signed. So I’m really excited.”