Yoenis Cespedes’ dimension of greatness is coming at a perfect time for the Mets, and his free agency
Just when it couldn’t be believed Yoenis Cespedes couldn’t be better than he has been since joining the Mets, he exceeded anyone’s imagination for stardom once again.
Cespedes turned in yet another brilliant performance at the plate on Monday afternoon in Washington, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and two of the club’s eight runs scored on the day.
But as has been the case so many times in the 35 games since Cespedes was acquired, it was the timeliness of all three of his hits, as they were all significant towards the club’s ability to push the Nationals five games out in the race for the National League East crown.
His third inning solo home run was the third of three home runs for the Mets on the afternoon. His home run stretched the club’s lead to 3-0 at the time.
While it may not seem significant after the Mets fell behind 5-3, without his home run, the complexion of the game is completely different after the five-run bloodbath Washington poured on Jon Niese and the Mets in the fourth inning.
Then in the sixth inning, he led off the frame with his 35th double of the season, and would later come around to score on Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrifice fly to pull the Mets back within one.
But he wouldn’t have even been in position to score on d’Arnaud’s flyball if he hadn’t distracted Scherzer and drawing a balk while on second base.
Then in the seventh inning, Cespedes capped the Mets scoring for the afternoon with an opposite field double over the head of Bryce Harper to plate David Wright from first base.
With his brilliant performance at the plate, Cespedes extended his hitting streak to six games. He’s hit five home runs in those six games to go along with two doubles and two triples. He’s now 13-for-his-last-28 during the streak with a 1.697 OPS in 29 plate appearances during that span.
This stretch only magnifies the importance of Cespedes presence in the Mets lineup. Since coming over in a trade with the Tigers, Cespedes has hit .311/.359/.669 with eight doubles, three triples, 13 home runs and 31 RBI and 31 runs scored in only 159 plate appearances over 34 games since July 31.
What does that all mean? Wins.
The Mets are now 24-11 since acquiring Cespedes.
“There’s a reason why we went and got him,” manager Terry Collins said. “There’s a reason why we traded what we traded to get him.”
But not even the Mets could have envisioned this kind of production and this kind of impact one player could make on the club.
Mike Piazza, who was the last mid-season acquisition who could be considered a transformational-type player, didn’t produce at these levels in his first 34 games. He hit .336/.385/.504 with five home runs and 12 RBI in his first 34 games as a Met, during which the Mets went 17-22 (Piazza sat in three of those games).
That’s great, but what Cespedes has done in his first 34 games is another dimension of greatness.
Previously, if the team’s most valuable player award wasn’t to be awarded to Jeurys Familia, Curtis Granderson would’ve been the next best candidate. But Cespedes maybe trumping both of them with a performance for the ages down the stretch of the 2015 season.
And if it continues, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
But whoever is the team’s MVP, this performance couldn’t come at a better time for Cespedes, who is two months away from becoming a free agent ahead of his age-30 season.
Cespedes claims he would like to remain with the Mets, but admits his future with the team is cloudy for the time being.
“I really don’t know what they are thinking,” the star outfielder said after the Mets 8-5 win over the Nationals on Monday. “But my plan is to go out there and have fun.
“I enjoy the team,” Cespedes continued. “It’s a really great team. I love the City of New York, I love the fans and what we have got going here is a really good thing, so I don’t really think about that. I want to go out and do my job and produce and put up great numbers.”
The issues with Cespedes have been well documented since he was acquired. The Mets essentially have until five days following the World Series to sign Cespedes to a new contract, otherwise the club must release him, per the terms of his contract.
And if the club releases a player, league rules dictate that club may not resign a released player until May 15 the following season.
Cespedes will undoubtedly sign a new deal with another club this winter if the Mets can’t retain him.
Presumably, the Mets would have to come in with an above-market value offer to keep Cespedes, both in terms of dollars and years. It remains to be seen if the Mets even entertain signing him.
For the moment the club says they aren’t thinking about a future marriage with the star outfielder, even though it’s hard to believe they’re not envisioning what it would take to retain him, assuming they’re interested.
Instead, they’re just enjoying the ride Cespedes is running with the team on his shoulders, with hopes that ride ends in November on a parade up the Canyon of Heroes towards City Hall.