Oct 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) in action during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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The past year and a half has been a relatively fun time for the New York Mets. Their rebuilding phase is now in the past, and all of their dark days of losing records, collapses, and struggles is seemingly behind them.
Over the past year and a half, the Mets have been led offensively by outfielder Yoenis Cespedes after acquiring him in a trade with the Detroit Tigers in July 2015. Last season, Cespedes joined the Mets the day of the trade deadline, and ultimately helped turned their season around. With Cespedes’ production, the Mets suddenly became unstoppable, overtaking the Nationals for the lead in the NL East. As a result of their unstoppable run, the Mets clinched their first division title since 2006 to make the MLB playoffs. After defeating the Dodgers and the Cubs in the first two rounds, the Mets were defeated by the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.
Following the conclusion of the season, it became increasingly likely that Cespedes’ short run as a Met was over. To everyone’s surprise, Cespedes returned to the Mets on a three-year deal. Once again, Cespedes became the focal point of the Mets offense. His first half production immediately put him in MVP talks heading into the All-Star break. A quad injury limited his production throughout the second half of the season, but Cespedes still led the team in several offensive categories. Now, we are back to square one.
The three-year deal signed by Cespedes included an opt-out after the first season, which he is reportedly planning on using. This will make Cespedes one of the more sought-out free agents this offseason. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that the Mets will try and offer him anything of worth. Cespedes is in the prime of his career, and seems to be getting better by the year. With the free agency period rapidly approaching, it’s incredibly likely that Cespedes will get the biggest contract of his career. The question is: where does he go?
Oct 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view outside of the bleachers entrance before game one of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Over the past two seasons, the Chicago Cubs have been key offseason buyers. The Cubs have a wide variety of home-grown players, combined with a plethora of big-money free agents. With Dexter Fowler becoming a free agent, the Cubs will be without a starting center fielder, as Albert Almora Jr. is still developing.
The Cubs are already a stacked team in terms of offense with or without Fowler, but adding another piece to the puzzle may be a tremendous decision. With that said, one of the players that should be on the Cubs radar in the offseason is Cespedes. Adding him could potentially double the production of Fowler, and add Gold Glove defense to an already stacked outfield of Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward. With the signing of Cespedes, the possibilities are endless with how you could manage that outfield.
There will be questions as to whether or not Cespedes can/will play center, but Jason Heyward is certainly capable of filling that need if necessary.
Jul 30, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A general view of the Rogers Centre as the Toronto Blue Jays host the Baltimore Orioles. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Blue Jays
Going into the offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays have two big free agents that may wind up elsewhere. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, despite their desires to stay in Toronto, may be out of Toronto by the 2017 season. Both players leaving Toronto creates a large gap in the lineup, and with this year’s free agent class weaker than normal, the Blue Jays may not have many worthy options.
Given Troy Tulowitzki‘s injury history, it may be difficult for Toronto to rely on him in a big-time leadership role. That only leaves Josh Donaldson, and while Donaldson is a phenomenal talent, he cannot carry the load by himself. With that said, the Blue Jays should look to go after Cespedes to fill one of the holes. Much like with the Cubs, the possibilities may be endless with how you could manage Toronto’s outfield. Cespedes could work in left field, center field, or in a DH role as well.
If Toronto were to re-sign Encarnacion and add Cespedes via free agency, that would be an upgrade to an already stout offense. A Cespedes/Donaldson reunion would also be a ton of fun to watch on a daily basis.
Oct 2, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; General view of a Turner Field logo on first base before a game between the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
You may be reading the team name and wondering “why on Earth would anyone want to go to Atlanta?” Well, the Atlanta Braves are officially moving out of Turner Field into their new ballpark. Normally, when a team moves, renewed interest follows. The Braves are a relatively young team with a good farm system, and a bright future. Because of this, the Braves may look to spend some money in the coming offseason.
The Braves outfield already contains veteran presence with Matt Kemp, and defensive promise with Ender Inciarte. Add Freddie Freeman to the equation, and that is a solid 1-2-3 punch in that Atlanta lineup. The Braves should therefore try and go after Yoenis Cespedes during the offseason. By adding him, they can solidify their outfield as a threat, and build their team around them. While adding Cespedes may not immediately make the Braves contenders, it may further propel the team going in the right direction.