Boston Red Sox Free Agent Targets: Yoenis Cespedes
The BoSox Injection staff looks at players available on the free agent market that the Boston Red Sox may have interest in this offseason.
So, you thought that Edwin Encarnacion was the only legitimate, prime-time hitter keeping fans on the edge of their seats? Think again.
Yoenis Cespedes is making the situation in New York seem more like The Young and the Restless, toying with the idea of opting out of his contract with the Mets and seeking big money from another club. CBS New York reported that, “according to a Mets source who spoke to the New York Daily News, the slugger has told some people that he won’t be back. But that same source said Cespedes told others within the organization that he loves playing with the Mets and expects to return.”
While he has three days after the World Series to make a decision, “there has been speculation that Cespedes could be offered a $200 million contract on the open market.”
Would Cespedes look for another home next season, and would that be back in Boston?
Why he fits:
The 31-year-old Cuban slugger is in the prime of his career. Only five seasons into his career, Cespedes is definitely playing in the present day of his potential. His career totals are astounding in such a short period of time, hitting 137 home runs and 453 RBIs with a slash line of .272/.325/.494.
Let’s face it: signing Cespedes would be an attempt at filling the void left by retiring Red Sox legend David Ortiz.
Since that’s the case, it’s only fitting that a comparison follows. It took 20 seasons for Ortiz to hit 541 home runs, which averages to 27 homers a season. That ratio factors to just over 135 home runs in five years, two less than Cespedes’ rate. The same can be said about the RBIs. While Ortiz’s ratio calculates to 442 RBIs in the same span, Cespedes was 11 runs better than the face of the Red Sox franchise.
Now, before the pitchforks come out, there’s no need for Red Sox Nation to get too angry. Ortiz means more to the city of Boston than just his numbers. Many of those home runs and RBIs were in very unique situations that Cespedes has never faced in his career. However, if Ortiz’s numbers need to be filled by someone else, Cespedes has shown that he can contribute each and every year.
Besides, it’s not like Cespedes would be a newbie in Boston. He was part of the famous trade that sent another beloved Red Sox son, Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics. Cespedes played in 51 games in the second half of the 2014 regular season for Boston. Much was made of Cespedes’ strong arm in left field, especially throwing out a base runner at home plate while fielding deep near the Green Monster in Fenway Park.
If it wasn’t for another trade, obtaining Rick Porcello from the Detroit Tigers, many Red Sox fans would have assumed that Cespedes was going to be in Boston for a long time. With all of the latin Red Sox players making their home in Boston, Cespedes would have felt very comfortable with his teammates the first time around, let alone re-signing with the team.
Why he doesn’t fit:
Talent is one thing. Consistency, especially with loyalty, is another.
Cespedes is currently playing for his fourth team in the last five season, in a foreign country from his native land and culture. One can’t blame the man if he doesn’t feel that loyal to any team, considering that he’s been traded so many times. For a great talent, a number of teams have felt that they were a better team without him.
One of those teams happens to be the Boston Red Sox.
It’s hard to justify loyalty when a player hasn’t had those intangible moments that defines their role with the fans. In those 51 games with the Red Sox, Cespedes only hit .269 with five home runs and 33 RBIs in what baseball experts agree to be a slugger-friendly ballpark. Before he had time to breathe, Cespedes was sent out of town for a pitcher, a player who only plays once every five games. The Red Sox organization felt that Cespedes, an every day position player, was less valuable than a starting pitcher. What would that do to the psyche of the big-name bat from Cuba?
Not to mention any insecurities creeping in from the strained right quad muscle that kept Cespedes out of the Mets lineup for much of the 2016 season. Maybe trying to overcome that type of injury in an unsure environment like Fenway Park would not seem that ideal for Cespedes.
Will they sign him?
The Red Sox would covet that bat more than anything else that Cespedes provides. Boston already has four strong outfielders, each with great power and production numbers. Maybe none as good as Cespedes, but their gloves and offense are good enough to start.
Still, if Encarnacion was to re-sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, or even another club, the Red Sox would seriously have to consider Cespedes. That is, as long as he opts out of his contract with the Mets. The spotlight would be as bright, if not brighter, in Boston as it already is in New York. Cespedes doesn’t come across as a player who shys away from that spotlight. However, would he shy away from his next two years with the Mets if he could boldly enter the free agent market and receive even more money?
Next: Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Jackie Bradley Jr.
If Cespedes goes on the market, the Red Sox will find an offer that they could live with to give him. Yet, there would be a definite budget tied to that offer, considering that the Red Sox are not desperate for an outfielder who can hit.
Interest Level: Moderate for now