Mets: Setting expectations for the Yoenis Cespedes 2020 Comeback Tour
Entering the final year of his contract, Yoenis Cespedes is set to return to the New York Mets in 2020 after missing all of last season recovering from double heel surgery. What can we expect from the big guy in 2020?
It has been a long time since Yoenis Cespedes has taken the field for the New York Mets, but when he was in the lineup, he was undoubtedly the most feared bats on the team.
Cespedes’ career with the Mets has been a very tumultuous one, to say the least. He first joined the club at the trade deadline in 2015 and was one of the biggest factors leading into their eventual World Series run, hitting 17 home runs and 44 RBI for the club in 57 games, propelling them into the playoffs.
He resigned with the club the following off-season and had a stellar year for the Mets in 2016, hitting 31 home runs with 86 RBI, batting .280 with a .354 OBP, earning himself an All-Star Selection and guiding the Mets to the playoffs once again.
He opted out of his contract the following off-season, but the Mets were quick to resign him, agreeing to a four-year $110 million contract prior to the 2017 season with a full no-trade clause, keeping him in orange and blue through the 2020 season which leads us to the current predicament.
Since signing that four-year contract, Cespedes has yet to play a full season with the Mets, and has not taken the field since August of 2018. This has been due to what was originally diagnosed as a nagging hamstring injury, and eventually turned into him undergoing double heel surgery in 2017, and then a broken ankle during his rehabilitation.
Now, the expectation is that Cespedes will finally rejoin the team in 2020 after sitting out all of the previous season recovering. Earlier this week, fans were treated to a promising update on Cespedes’ status, in the form of a video on twitter of him taking batting practice with former Met Endy Chavez.
While he may soon be cleared to play in 2020, the question still remains at what level can Cespedes be expected to perform.
On one hand, despite his many injuries, whenever Cespedes has taken the field for the Mets, he has produced. In his career in New York, he is a .282 hitter with a .346 OBP with 74 home runs and 201 RBI in 308 games. In fact, in his last game with the Mets in July of 2018, he hit a home run against the Yankees after sitting out two months, showing he can step away for an extended time and still hit for power.
In addition, he will be entering the final year of his contract, incentivizing him to up his game in 2020 in order to help earn a big new contract next offseason.
On the other hand, he will have gone over a year and a half without facing major league pitching, and that’s more than enough time for a player to lose their plate vision and timing at the plate, leading to a lower average and less power output. It is also unknown what to expect from him in the outfield after his heel surgeries.
Either way, I think it is very unrealistic for Cespedes to play in all 162 games in 2020. In fact, even if he is healthy on Opening Day 2020, I still expect the Mets to be very careful with him throughout the season, replacing him defensively in blowout games and giving him consistent off days, such as sitting him every 4 or 5 games to keep him rested as the year goes on.
As for how he rebounds at the plate, there is a chance that he regresses and doesn’t produce anywhere near the level Mets fans used to expect from him, however, I’ve always felt that Cespedes was a special player, and when he was hot, he was one of the most dangerous bats in the league.
If he stays healthy, I don’t expect him to perform at his peak, but I realistically see him maintaining a batting average in the .260-.270 range, and if he has the same plate discipline, a decent OBP as well. As for his power output, if he ends up playing in the neighborhood of 120 games, expect anywhere from 20-25 home runs.
To me, that isn’t a completely far-fetched expectation for the former All-Star left fielder, if he stays healthy the majority of the season and the Mets don’t push him too hard out of the gate.
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Even if he isn’t the centerpiece of the lineup that he was for New York a few years back, with the line up we currently have with young players like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto taking pressure off of Cespedes at the top of the batting order, he can still be a big contributor for the club in 2020, and with any luck, his final season in New York can end with a postseason run.