It was mid-February, and Yoenis Cespedes looked good.
Think DH (designated hitter)……..National League say yes.
All appeared to be on track for a mid-March return in spring training and a healthy and productive year ahead.
His play in the outfield reportedly was still in question.
Unfortunately for Cespedes and the Mets, the baseball world stopped.
He passed the physical tests and his swing was crisp and fluid.
However, the question still remained – where will he play? A designated hitter role would be a perfect
fit in a crowded Mets’ outfield.
Maybe fate will finally shine on the Mets… DH
With the revamped baseball season ahead, Cespedes could be in the Mets’ lineup daily as the newly nintroduced DH, and it can have possible long-range ramifications for him and the Metropolitans.
Cespedes is in the final year of his contact that was scheduled to pay him $11 million if he didn’t begin the year on the disabled list. That was supposed to be $6 million if he was injured.
He and the Mets agreed to take a $23 million hit this year after a $7 million hit in 2019 due to his series of estranged ankle injuries.
He has 82 games to prove himself in a contract year. Keep in mind that he missed all of the 2019 season and played a combined 119 games in 2017 and ’18.
A fully healthy sharp Cespedes in the lineup daily as an outfielder or DH certainly keeps the Mets in playoff contention.
However, if the Mets don’t move Dominic Smith or JD Davis, Cespedes’ challenge for at-bats could be a challenge.
At age 34, there still will be enough teams that will take a gamble on him after the season, maybe even the Mets.
Currently, the Mets are apprehensive to open the checkbook for a new contract.
Yet, Cespedes has found the knack through the years to make teams –notably the Mets – eagerly give him a pen in hand to sign.
He had a breakout, 35-homer year with Detroit in 2015 that led to the beginning of his association with the Mets in 2016. He then signed a three-year, $75 million deal.
But he earned every penny that season with a cavalcade of timely and clutch hits that helped carry the Mets to a wild card as he finished with a 31-86-.284 line.
Unfortunately, that brought Mets’ fans to their current state with Cespedes.
Can he produce another big season in his final contract year on a team that appears to have plenty in place for a division and wild-card run?
The plot can begin with Cespedes as daily DH and thicken if he and the Mets have success.