(Neil Miller – Sportsday Wire)
Yoenis Cespedes arrived to the New York Mets at the trade deadline last season, and was an instant success the two months he spent here, plus helping the Mets make the World Series.
Cespedes’ numbers were staggering, as he hit 17 home runs with 44 RBI with the Mets. For the entire season, including his time with the Tigers, he hit .291 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI.
There was talk of giving him the National League MVP award last season, as his contributions to the Mets’ run to the playoffs was monumental.
The Mets’ top priority of the offseason was re-signing Cespedes, which they did on January 22, and he was formally introduced at Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon.
“Now that it’s official, I can say I’m very happy to be putting my Mets jersey on again. I would like to thank everyone who made this possible, the Mets organization, my agents, my teammates, and all of the fans who supported me last season and continued to support me through the offseason. I know that this team has everything it needs to continue on with what we started last year,” said Cespedes to open the press conference.
Cespedes is right that they have the pieces to win it all, and have improved with the additions of Neil Walker at second base Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, and Alejandro De Aza as a backup outfielder.
The starting pitching will be even better, if that’s possible, because Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard will be here for the full season and Zack Wheeler will be back in the rotation after missing 2015 with Tommy John surgery. They will be joining the two aces, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom to make up what is, without a doubt, the best rotation in Major League Baseball.
Cespedes said of coming back to Mets to win the World Series, “It was very important to me. I think that for me, as well as my teammates and the whole Mets organization, we really want to finish what we started last year and that really factored in for me.”
Cespedes is showing that he can be a leader of this club, another voice the club can look to for inspiration in much the same manner as captain David Wright.
On what he likes about New York and what the Mets have built, Cespedes said, “I can say that from the first day when I came last season, that very first day, the fans showed incredible support, my teammates were so welcoming, as well as the whole Mets organization, and from there I just knew that I wanted to come back.”
On any Mets teammates that tried to convince him to come back, “I had a lot of teammates that reached out, sent texts, just keeping up with me, but there was really one teammate who reached out and was urging me to stay, and that was Hansel Robles.”
In addition to seeing what the Mets as a team will do, it will be interesting to see what will can do with a full season in Flushing.
Can he put up 40 homers and 140 RBI? Can an MVP season be expected from Cespedes?
“I like to set goals for myself, however, I don’t set them in those terms. I just want to go out there and do the best I can, that will be the goal for this season,” said Cespedes.
On if the fans expect an MVP season, Cespedes said, “Of course they do.”
On returning to the Mets on a three-year deal instead of a longer contract from another club, Cespedes said, “I think that it’s just important to keep in mind that it’s not always about the amount of money being offered. It’s about being in a place that you want to play in, that you’re happy in, and you can see that is just what happened in this case.”
One thing that is also included in his three-year contract is an opt-out clause after the first, and he said of staying the full length of the contract, “Yes, I have it in my mind to stay the three years.”
Cespedes said of what was the deciding factor in staying with the Mets instead of joining their National League East rival, the Washington Nationals, “I think just the chemistry, the union between my teammates and the way we always went out on that field ready to win. It just was what made me feel good here.”
On playing a full year in the National League, he said, “I think a few years back, I viewed it as there was differences between the American League and the National League. I think a lot of changes have been enacted, though, and it just doesn’t feel differently anymore, so I think it’ll be just the same playing a full season here.”
On being able to stay with the same team he finished last season with after having spent time in Oakland, Boston, and Detroit in a two-year span, he said, “I think just really the first trade from Oakland was the one that really affected me. I think from there I learned that this was a business and I kind of took it as such any time another trade happened. However, I can just say I’m really happy to be with the Mets and really excited to be here for the next three years.”
On how New York feels differently than the other cities he played in, Cespedes said, “I think just the amount of support I received from the fans, from my teammates, and from the Mets’ organization as a whole, it’s just been incredible, it’s something that took me back and I really appreciate that.”