Despite signing outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to two separate multi-year contracts, the Mets were always weary of giving him a so-called mega-deal. Cespedes was an important piece to the team’s run to the World Series in 2015, but he still lingered on the free agent market that following winter. A year later, Cespedes opted out and was awarded a four-year, $110 million contract to be the face of the franchise. His value to the team was high, and even a four-year deal was a major commitment from an organization that has seen large deals backfire.
Since Cespedes struggled finding suitors in his first free agency run, perhaps the Mets could have waited it out, rather than pounce the way they did. Now, Cespedes has two more years worth $55 million remaining on his deal, and there have been more stories about him off the field than on the field producing. The most recent headlines were last weekend when Cespedes mentioned that he would need surgery on his both his heels, which could sideline him for 10-12 months.
The Mets are not going to make the postseason this year, and face the question of shutting down Cespedes in a lost year or help a team with no indication of rebuilding finish strong. This situation has put the organization at a cross roads with no clear positive outcome.
With the non-waiver trade deadline approaching, the Mets are certain to sell, and have already begun shipping Jeurys Familia to the Oakland Athletics. It’s easier said than done to blow it up in New York where expectations are magnified, and they have stated they have no intention to do so.
Manager Mickey Callaway is only in his first year on the job, but he has faced scrutiny based on poor managing decisions or ineptitude answering difficult questions from the media. Callaway told the media in a postgame press conference that he was not aware of Cespedes’ heel soreness. He later backtracked saying it was a communication error, something that is too common with the Mets.The @Mets can't win in this Yoenis Cespedes situation, with problems arising at every turn.Click To Tweet
To say Callaway is on the hot seat is a stretch, but he needs to prove that he can steer this team in the right direction, and give hope going into 2019. In relation to Cespedes, this will be a more difficult task as long as he is on the disabled list. There also could be a new general manager in the near future, and the new regime might not have Callaway in their plans.
There is no doubt that the Mets are a better club when Cespedes, who was a vital contributor to their 11-1 start, is healthy. He can still play at a high level when healthy, but that has been an uncertainty for the past three seasons. When Cespedes was activated Friday night, he had two hits including a home run in a win against the New York Yankees. Cespedes remained out of the lineup for the next two games, which were losses, and now the team is trying to be more cautious. The idea of him playing first base also has been explored to get him out of the outfield.
Another indecision with Cespedes is that they want to be careful, but it also now appears that Cespedes was rushed back to play the Yankees since he still has pain in his feet. The Mets are in last place in the division, and have a lot of older players under contract for next year such as Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. Their farm system is not strong, and their window was supposed to be now with all their pitchers healthy so a tear-down isn’t likely.
By no means is he Jason Bay who was a complete disaster, however the Mets are more than aware of a highly paid outfielder who had their career derailed by injuries. Cespedes is a tremendous talent, and if someone is injured, that’s not their fault. Not to mention, the Mets are not 40-57 only because of Cespedes’ absence. Other players have underperformed like Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Jason Vargas to name a few.
Cespedes will most likely be here until his contract expires, and the club will go as far as he takes them, but with the latest developments of shutting him down or not, there’s no right answer for a team desperate of needing one.