Number 1: Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes
One of the biggest signings this winter was actually a re-signing. After weeks and weeks of hype, rumors, and questions, free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes chose the Mets over the Nationals, re-signing with New York for three years and $75 million, a deal that was made official just recently.
Cespedes actually has the chance to hit the open market next offsesason, and the 30-year-old received a full no-trade provision. This season, Cespedes will make $17.5 million in salary along with a $10 million signing bonus.
If Cespedes chooses to stay with the Mets beyond this season, he will receive $23.75 million each of the next two seasons.
This is without a doubt the biggest non-pitcher signing that will have the most impact on the playoff races, specifically the N.L. East.
If Cespedes were to have chosen to move to the nation’s capital and play for Dusty Baker and the Nats, he would have provided protection for Bryce Harper that Washington lacked last season, and instantly would have made them the favorites in the division.
By signing with the Mets, it puts New York back in the driver’s seat in the division. That is how much of an impact his bat has in any lineup.
Yes, Cespedes did have a bad stretch last season, but he lengthened the Mets lineup, and without him the Mets offense was nonexistent.
In fact, Cespedes was the sole reason for the biggest turn in offensive production by a team in MLB history.
From April through July, the Mets hitters were atrocious. They hit .234 with a .662 OPS, were last in OPS, and averaged just 3.5 runs and 0.9 home runs per game. This all led to being last in runs scored.
Having Cespedes in the heart of the order turned this team for the rest of the season into the best offensive team. Unbelievably, from August through September, the Mets were first in runs scored, hit .275, had an OPS of .840, averaged 6.2 runs per game, and hit 1.7 home runs per game.
Cespedes was traded to the Mets from the Tigers minutes before last summer’s trade deadline, and in 57 games he blasted 17 home runs and drove in 44 with a .942 OPS.
He was a great teammate, won over the fans immediately, and helped power the franchise to their first pennant in 15 years. His sheer ability to have success in a market like New York is what impressed me the most.
When one player has an impact like Cespedes did, and then chooses one divisional contender over another in free agency, that player is bound to make this list.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section about the players I chose and make the case for players that I didn’t include! Again remember: these seven guys aren’t in any particular order.