The New York Mets depth chart has changed a lot since Yoenis Cespedes last played. What role will he have for the team in 2020?
After being on the shelf all of last season due to double heel surgeries and a fractured ankle, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes looks to make his return for the 2020 season. In an off-season radio interview with Eduardo Perez on MLB Network, Cespedes said that he believes he can hit over 50 home runs and play in over 140 games.
Could we actually see that? And if he is ready to contribute at that level, where does he fit in both offensively and defensively? He was on the trade block this offseason but after reporting to Port St. Lucie ready to go, it looks as though he is here to stay…for now.
So where does he fit in the 2020 Mets roster?
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Brodie van Wagenen deemed Cespedes “ready to contribute offensively” which means there are concerns about his ability to play the field. Cespedes has only made major league starts in the outfield, and with his injuries come doubts of whether or not he can handle playing a corner outfield position.
He’s coming off of surgeries that removed bone calcifications on both heels and a fractured ankle after a run-in with a wild boar, making his mobility questionable.
One option could be moving him to first base, where Brodie Van Wagenen said he will get reps in Spring Training, but it seems hard to believe that Pete Alonso’s playing time will be sacrificed so that Cespedes can play besides on a routine day off for Alonso.
This could be a move designed to see if he can handle playing first base and an attempt to increase his trade value if the Mets choose to deal him later in the season.
Another option is to split time in an already crowded outfield that includes two non-outfielders that the Mets want in the lineup (Dominic Smith and JD Davis). Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto are interchangeable in center field and right field and are everyday players which leaves left field up for grabs.
One could argue that JD Davis earned the starting left field job after the season he had last year, but the bat of Cespedes may be enough to split time. Is it possible that manager Luis Rojas employs an “Outfield by Committee”, something often seen in football where Cespedes, Davis, and Smith are put in the lineup based on favorable matchups and analytics?
All three are dangerous offensively but a bit shaky defensively. The emergence of Davis and Smith puts the Mets in a tough spot when trying to find all three playing time.
There is no denying the positive impact that Cespedes can have on the lineup if he’s healthy and able to contribute. He is an offensive force that would fit in very nicely in the Mets lineup and would see good pitches to hit with Alonso on deck behind him (if Rojas chooses to bat them back to back).
But he could also fit in nicely in a different team’s lineup, specifically an American League club where he could DH and avoid playing the field at all, reducing the risk of injury. Perhaps the Mets will first see how Cespedes does to decide if he has any trade value and then shop him later in the season, or if he is reinjured, eat the money after they amended his contract to make much less than he was supposed to prior to the injuries.
Either way, Cespedes is on the roster at a low cost with a chance for a high reward. As we enter Spring Training, it will be interesting to see how Rojas decides to use him, but most Mets fans can agree that having him in the lineup would be a huge boost to the offense.
Whether he splits time at a corner outfield position or is Alonso’s backup at first base, he is determined to help bring this team to the postseason and finish his tenure as a Met with a bang.
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What do you think Cespedes’ role will be in 2020?