The news has been swirling around Yoenis Cespedes and the Washington Nationals. According to CBS’s Jon Heyman, the Nationals have offered Cespedes a five-year contract, in the neighborhood of $100 million. Heyman also adds that the Nationals are willing to go slightly above $100 million. Cespedes has been rumored to be seeking a seven-year deal, but all indications point to that not happening.
The Nationals are coming off a disappointing season, without a postseason appearance. Former manager, Matt Williams, has been fired and management has been busy in the offseason. The newcomers to the Nationals this winter are Stephen Drew, Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, Oliver Perez, and Yusmeiro Petit.
Despite great expectations for 2015, the Nationals suffered serious injuries. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon missed a chunk of the season, while Denard Span missed the majority of the year. All indications are that Werth and Rendon have successfully recovered , and are primed for a healthy start for the 2016 campaign. Denard Span has signed with the San Francisco Giants on a three-year contract. This will leave Michael Taylor to patrol the outfield in case of injuries.
Despite a disappointing season for the Nationals, Bryce Harper emerged as one of the best players in the game. The pitching staff struggled at times, and will be missing Jordan Zimmermann after signing a long-term deal with the Detroit Tigers. The new acquisitions will round out an already deep team for the 2016 season. With such depth, especially in the outfield, where would Yoenis Cespedes fit into the plan?
Cespedes would be a welcome addition to any team’s middle of the batting order. The Nationals are no different, but the team is committed to a lot of money to outfielder Jayson Werth. Werth’s production has declined in the past few seasons. More importantly, Werth has not provided the power threat that he was in Philadelphia. Cespedes would fit nicely in left field over Werth, but does that make sense for the Nationals’ payroll? In addition, the development of Michael Taylor will take a hit from Cespedes’s presence.
The Nationals and new manager, Dusty Baker, could decide to play Werth at first base when Ryan Zimmerman is inevitably injured. Again, this would not be a full time spot for Werth. The pressure would be on the manager to keep everyone happy.
In the end, the Nationals would take much pleasure in taking Cespedes away from their division rival New York Mets. This potential signing appears to be a power move from general manager Mike Rizzo. Rizzo has already taken the Mets playoff MVP, why not take the man who single-handedly brought the Mets to the playoffs? The Nationals would gain a mental edge on the Mets, while adding a premier bat to protect Harper and Rendon.