(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
The unexpected happens and the scenario now for the New York Mets is simple: Michael Cuddyer retires after a 15-year career and assuming $12.5 million or less is off the books that opens the door for the Mets to begin the process of bringing Yoenis Cespedes back to Citi Field.
Simple mathematics for the Mets always seems to be an issue, but for a fan base and organization that got a taste of the World Series the math is simple because of what Cespedes brings to the table. More so, the equation is Yoenis Cespedes was the catalyst to a Mets offense and a key factor in surpassing the Washington Nationals to a NL East title.
Bypass the disappointment of Cespedes’ failure to produce in the postseason. The dimension of the Mets offense changes when Cespedes is in the lineup. Opposing pitches have to pitch around Cespedes and he is the ideal compliment for Juan Lagares in the outfield.
Of course, Yoenis Cespedes does not come cheap. But his presence in the lineup as an everyday player, as was the situation after his late July acquisition, did make a difference. For starters the Mets fan base is enthused and that shows with an increase in season sales and Citi Field will have more than one sell out in 2016.
So you ask with money off the books, the Mets should make their pitch for Cespedes as the better option than acquiring Dexter Fowler, Alex Gordon, Will Venable, Alex Rios , Justin Upton or any of the other free agent outfielders that are in the market. They all have value and would fill the need.
Yeah, but Yoenis Cespedes is that one time player that comes along every so often. and disregard reports that he is not a good leader in the clubhouse because he was one of those welcome additions that had the right chemistry. In other words, Cespedes was a perfect fit even though it became a mission in futility to try and get a quote in the postgame clubhouse.
The leadership of Cuddyer will be missed. And there may be spot for the veteran on the Mets coaching staff, perhaps a perfect bench coach for manager Terry Collins. But in the end, the departure of Cuddyer on the roster now gives GM Sandy Alderson leverage in opening the negotiations to start the process of seriously assuring that Yoenis Cespedes in back in a uniform of the New York Mets.
Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera changed the dimension of the Mets lineup, and of course the infield this week with their acquisitions at the winter meetings in Nashville.More importantly it does not significantly propel the projected team payroll for 2016.
Cabrera, in particular will cost the Mets $8.25 million this coming season and in 2017. There is a club option in 2018 for $8.2 and a buyout option of $2 million. Smart and decisive moves by Alderson and his brass, that make the Mets infield much more capable of helping that young and potent pitching staff.
And of course, Cespedes in the outfield showed his capability with positioning and ability to save a run or two. A long time scout with a team that has no need for cespedes said. “This is a player that has the tools to make a difference if he stays injury free.”
Go back to Game 5 in early November at Citi Field. Cespedes, after fouling a ball off his left knee, was in pain. He stayed tough, continued his at bat before popping out to short and barely could make it back to the dugout. There was also an injury to the left shoulder and his hand during his brief tenure with the team.
But an injured Yoenis Cespedes kept playing. He never complained and Mets fans quickly welcomed his addition to the lineup. A lovefest ensued with the outfielder that was popular and much like the addition of Mike Piazza when he made his first appearance at Shea Stadium in a Mets uniform.
Cuddyer became one of those free agent disappointments that Mets fans have become accustomed to know as a failure. His one year at Citi Field will be remembered more for leadership than the production that was left, and for more time missed because of injuries.
As we wish Michael Cuddyer well, his departure left the Mets and their fans with an early Christmas gift: The money is now available to start that process and bring the gift of delivering Yoenis Cespedes again to Citi Field.
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