On the back of a terrific young rotation, the Mets are contender-ish this year, and so for the last few months, there has been a steadily increasing cry to improve the team’s feeble offense. After all, the Mets position players are 27th in wRC+, and even after acquiring Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, this was an offense that didn’t really inspire much confidence. And so, the Mets have been looking for a slugger they can stick behind (or maybe in front of) Lucas Duda, and after walking away from Carlos Gomez on Wendesday night, they’ve reportedly landed Yoenis Cespedes right before the deadline.
The cost was a couple of solid but not spectacular prospects. Michael Fulmer is the headliner in the deal, and while Kiley McDaniel gave him a 45 FV grade before the season, he told me he’d bump him up to a 50 based on the improved slider and command he’s shown this year. Still, it’s mostly a toss-up whether he’s a starter or a reliever, and he’s sticking with his Joba Chamberlain comparison, so this isn’t exactly a premium pitching prospect that the Mets just surrendered. Luis Cessa, the second prospect, is more of just an arm-strength guy with average secondary stuff; Kiley mentioned he’s still a 40 FV and compared him to the pitching prospects the team gave up to get Uribe and Johnson last week.
The big concession here is that they only control Cespedes through the end of the season, as he’s not the multi-year player they were looking for earlier. After the Gomez deal fell apart, and they apparently decided not to meet the Reds asking price for Jay Bruce, rentals were really the only options on the table, so at least they got the best rental position player left. Cespedes is currently in the midst of the best season of his career, already putting up +4.2 WAR in the first 100 games of the year, though he shouldn’t be expected to keep playing at that level; the Mets are probably buying about +1.5 WAR over the remainder of the season.
In fact, for all the long-running talk about the Mets as a landing spot for Troy Tulowitzki, Cespedes actually projects to be a better player over the rest of the 2015 season. His combination of power and quality defense make him a well above average player even in a normal year, and the Mets are acquiring him when he’s performing at the peak of his abilities. And they got to keep most of the best parts of their future in tact in order to do it.
So, realistically, the questions are more about how Cespedes fits in New York than whether about this is a fair price to pay for a good player; it pretty clearly is, given the other trades we’ve seen this week. But while the Mets have long been searching for offense, Cespedes is still a bit of an awkward fit for New York.
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