April is nearly over, and Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban sensation who carried the Mets on his back to a World Series appearance, is still a free agent. The other top outfield bats Jason Heyward and Justin Upton found new homes while Alex Gordon went home. Still, Cespedes is a man without a team and all those lighttower shots are sitting there with him just waiting to be snatched up.
Let’s clear one thing up before we dive in: Cespedes will get paid. He will get a massive, multi-year contract worth well north of $100 million. It’s inevitable, even for a guy still looking for a team in January. Prince Fielder has $214 million pieces of evidence. Max Scherzer has $210 million to add. The point is guys still get paid, handsomely, in January.
The Cardinals have plenty of money, as we’ve seen during their pursuits of Heyward and David Price this winter. They also struggled to score most of last year, and are particularly diffident in the power department. Hmm, doesn’t that Cespedes guy hit for power? The fit looks fine on paper, if you squint a little bit. Let’s dive in and see if Cespedes still looks like a good option after a closer look.
In Exhibit A, we’ll introduce you to an elite player. Let’s call him Jekyll. Look at this batting line:
.291/.328/.542 with 35 homers
Of those homers, 17 came in this player’s final 230 plate appearances. Jekyll also owns a .292/.351/.505 batting line from his rookie year, in which he hit 23 homers.
In Exhibit B, we’ll introduce you to a very underwhelming player. Let’s call him Hyde.
2013- .240/.294/.442 with 26 homers
2014- .260/.301/.450 with 22 homers
This highlights one of the biggest concerns with Cespedes; which player will you get on a year-to-year basis, Jekyll or Hyde? His career average .319 OBP is troubling as well. When sinking nine figures and upwards of $20 million annually into a player, one traditionally hopes for as few red flags as possible. Cespedes is riddled with them. Add in the fact that he’s already 30, and the track record for aging free swingers isn’t a pretty one. Anyone remember Alfonso Soriano? Take a look at Soriano’s career batting line:
Cespedes is a better fielder, Soriano was a better baserunner. Seems like a wash. Remember what an albatross Soriano’s deal with the Cubs turned out to be? Guess how old Soriano was when he signed with the Cubs? He was 30, the same as Cespedes. He also came with a better overall track record, and we saw how that turned out.
Final Verdict: Pass
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