Yoenis Cespedes is not what the Mets need in 2020. But with $29,500,000 owed to him, will the Wilpons insist on siccing him on the team anyway…
Yoenis Cespedes is the elephant in Brodie Van Wagenen’s office no one wants to think about. As indicated in yesterday’s column, Van Wagenen has enough on his plate already this season. But because there is a likelihood Cespedes is going to be declared “healthy” and ready to play next season, Van Wagenen has no choice but to spend time on Cespedes.
And money. Lots of money – almost $30 million owed to Cespedes for the privilege of his services for the 2020 season.
Now, if you happen to like Yoenis Cespedes you should stop reading here because I don’t like him. I believe Cespedes is cancer on the Mets and every team he’s ever played for. It’s the reason why three teams have seen fit to run his butt out of town in spite of his ability to hit baseballs hard.
Okay, with that out of the way, we can get down to business.
Imagine this Mets lineup on Opening Day 2020:
- Amed Rosario
- Jeff McNeil
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Pete Alonso
- Michael Conforto
- J.D. Davis
- Wilson Ramos
- Robinson Cano
- Jacob deGrom
Wow, if only it can be true. But (yes, there’s always a but), that’s assuming that Cespedes can remain healthy and not upset the finely-tuned and positive atmosphere in the Mets clubhouse.
And one other thing. Did you notice Brandon Nimmo is missing from that lineup?
The clubhouse is everything in baseball. You take 25 men, some old some young, from all parts of the world, with varying degrees of skills and character – and you throw them together for a marathon baseball season. You never know what you are going to get.
We know what we have based on the camaraderie we witnessed this past season. One rotten apple…
We’ve heard nothing from the Mets and not a peep from Cespedes himself regarding his status with the team. I suspect that’s intentional and similar to kicking the explosive can down the road.
Cespedes: It’s All About The Money
The Mets choices are limited with Yoenis Cespedes. The team can’t trade him. Who would want him? Even if there is a team out there who bites, the Mets would need to eat at least 80-90% of his 2020 salary. So, if that’s the case, the Mets might just as well keep him to get whatever production they can from him.
Another option is for the team to release Cespedes, in which case a team can claim him while being responsible for paying Cespedes the major league minimum (around $600,000). Fat chance of that happening…
So far, Cespedes has not been a direct financial liability for the team. Insurance has paid between 75-80% of the monies owed during the time he has been on the Injured List.
Coverage ends on the first day Cespedes returns to the field, and the cycle is reset to the next time he is injured with a waiting and evaluation period before the Mets are eligible for benefits again.
Assuming again that Cespedes is not a fit on this Mets team, a final option is to keep Cespedes on the IL for as long as they can. Team doctors can claim his injuries have not healed to point where a return to the field risks a new injury or re-injury of his surgery mended heels.
This is the way the Yankees (shh – don’t tell anybody) have avoided Jacoby Ellsbury‘s return to the team.
The strategy is employed throughout the major leagues and there is no case I can find where MLB has intervened, saying this guy is healthy and you need to play him – now!
Worst Case – The Wilpons Stick It To The Mets
Mets fans know the history of the Wilpons and Saul Katz (don’t forget him). They are not William O. DeWitt Jr, the primary owner of the St. Louis Cardinals who entrusts his baseball people with his dollars.
Nor are they Hal Steinbrenner, who works in tandem with Yankee’s GM Brian Cashman – within a budget but always ready to listen and ante up when necessary.
The Wilpons eat nothing but the porterhouse steaks they enjoy in their penthouse and other homes. And certainly, they don’t eat Cespedes’s salary.
So, unless Van Wagen can find a team hungry for pitching (Noah Syndergaard) and willing to take on Cespedes because the Mets won’t deal unless he’s included in the trade, the Wilpons will insist that Cespedes plays.
Thereby, forcing Mickey Callaway to find positions between third base and the outfield, where Conforto is a must in right field – for Cespedes, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and J.D. Davis.
The Mets don’t need any of this. The regular position players are set for 2020. They’ll field a good team.
But they’ll field a better team without Yoenis Cespedes in their clubhouse. The trouble is the Wilpons don’t know that and they can care less.
They’re going to sic Cespedes on the team, rather than fork over the money to pay him in the final year of his contract, taking advantage of a team intact with no potential problems on or off the field.
Mets fans should be up in arms, and they will be if it goes down that way. It’s an old story in Metland about the Wilpons – but it must remain in the spotlight – here and generally in the New York media…or suffer the consequences.