Yoenis Cespedes is one of several National League players who could benefit from Major League Baseball implementing a universal designated hitter this season. Judging by Michael Conforto’s level of excitement about Cespedes, the veteran outfielder could give the New York Mets a major boost in a shortened year.
Cespedes appears to be healthy entering the 2020 season. After Saturday’s workout at Citi Field, Conforto said Cespedes “looks like a monster.”
“He looks like a monster,” Conforto said, via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “He looks like he’s motivated. He looks like he’s in shape. I’ve seen some of the stuff he was doing to get himself ready, some videos of him working out at his ranch. The guy is definitely hungry. He misses the game.”
DiComo shared a video of Cespedes taking batting practice, and it looked like he hit some bombs.
Here's Yoenis Céspedes taking batting practice at Citi Field. The first and last swings were homers.
Conforto added that being able to get Cespedes into the lineup every day using the DH could be “absolutely incredible” for the Mets. Cespedes will likely be limited in the field after he missed the entire 2019 season with a fractured ankle he suffered at his ranch. The 34-year-old also had multiple heel surgeries before that.
There was a lot of disappointment in Cespedes over the way he suffered his ankle injury, so he should have plenty to prove in a shortened season. The new DH rule will help him with that.
The introduction of the DH to the National League in 2020 is going to have a significant impact. One way it could do so is allowing some players who might not want to play the field every day to get into the lineup.
Yoenis Cespedes is one of them. He hasn’t played since 2018, as he fractured his ankle at his ranch last season to cost him all of 2019. He’s working his way back for 2020, and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen thinks he could DH on Opening Day.
Van Wagenen said Cespedes is closer to game ready than in March. Called himself “otpmistic” about Cespedes playing. Conforto has no restrictions. Hopes Lowrie can transition out of his leg brace and be more active.
The Mets would certainly welcome this. When healthy, Cespedes remains a quality hitter, but he hasn’t played over 100 games since 2016. He hit 31 home runs that year and finished eighth in NL MVP voting.
The 34-year-old did not exactly endear himself to the Mets due to how he suffered the injury, and deferred some salary as a result. He should have something to prove when he gets back on the field.
Yoenis Cespedes’ boycott of the media lasted six days.
Cespedes spoke for the first time this spring on Sunday, admitting that he made a “mistake” that led to his season-ending ankle fracture in May 2019. He added that he’s targeting Opening Day for his return to action.
“I committed and error and I paid for it,” Yoenis Céspedes says. He doesn’t want to address the past though pic.twitter.com/4wTZBLQs2U
In other words, we’re not going to get much clarity regarding Cespedes’ reported wild boar incident. That incident cost him a lot of money as the Mets forced him to restructure his contract, and a lot of people were understandably upset with him over the whole ordeal.
There was certainly no indication why Cespedes felt this way, but the safe guess is he didn’t appreciate the New York media’s reporting about the bizarre ranch accident that cost him all of last season. Such an odd story lends itself well to headlines, so plenty has been written about it. Cespedes has been painted as irresponsible in some quarters for the nature of that injury.
Staying on the field will be key for Cespedes this season. If he can do that and hit a bit, he may be able to silence the critics.
Cespedes missed all of 2019, hasn’t played a full season since 2015, and is coming off multiple foot/ankle injuries and surgeries. Though he agreed to a salary adjustment for 2020, taking him on would still present a risk for teams (he’ll earn $11 million just by making the Opening Day roster).
Lowrie turns 36 in April and only played in nine games last season due to injuries. He is set to earn $10 million in 2020 thanks to the contract he signed last year. The Mets’ infield is already crowded, so Lowrie is more or less superfluous. The Oakland A’s may have interest in acquiring him yet again.
According to multiple people who were informed of the incident, Cespedes has traps on his ranch for a variety of reasons, including to keep boars away from people. But one boar was removed from a trap — perhaps by Cespedes — and either charged toward Cespedes or startled him, causing Cespedes to step into a hole.
The Commissioners Office and Players Association got involved in the situation because the Mets wanted to withhold salary from Cespedes, feeling he may have violated terms of his contract with the way he got hurt. The two sides ended up agreeing to a salary adjustment for 2020. Cespedes has only played in 119 games since signing a 4-year, $110 million contract extension with the Mets prior to the 2017 season. 2020 will be his final year under contract with the team.
Yoenis Cespedes reached an agreement with the New York Mets this week to significantly lower his salary for 2020, and that could result in the team being able to trade the veteran outfielder.
Cespedes has reportedly taken a pay cut of roughly $20 million to lower his 2020 salary to around $10 million from $29.5 million. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the contract restructure has led to teams reaching out to the Mets about possible trades involving Cespedes.
One interesting effect of Yoenis Céspedes' contract restructuring: the Mets have had teams reach out the past week regarding his availability in trades, according to a source. Nothing close or imminent or even all that likely, but some initial conversations have taken place.
Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million extension with the Mets prior to the 2017 season, and he has played in only 119 games over the past two seasons because of numerous injuries. He hit .262 with nine home runs and 29 RBI in 38 games in 2018. The 34-year-old is a quality power hitter when healthy, so teams are likely kicking the tires to see if they can get him at a reasonable price.
MLB players taking pay cuts is almost unheard of due to contracts being fully guaranteed, but Cespedes agreed to take less money because the Mets are said to have a credible grievance over the way he injured his ankles last May.