Last month, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has fully healed from his hamstring injuries and is beginning a “normal offseason workout.”
The 32-year-old signed a four-year, $110 million contract prior to the 2017 season to remain in New York. However, he appeared in just 81 games, hitting .292/.352/.540 with 17 home runs and 42 RBI in 321 plate appearances.
“[Cespedes said that he will change his workouts this winter to get more flexibility in his legs, rather than the strengthening exercises he did last winter trying to bulk up his thighs.
“He said he will do these different exercises with Mike Barwis, the Mets’ strength and conditioning advisor, who came under criticism this year with the team’s mounting injuries,” according to Ackert.
A healthy Cespedes would do wonders to help bolster the middle of New York’s order in 2018. For one, it would help replenish some of the power the team traded away during the summer.
The Mets hit 224 home runs in 2017, shattering a club record of 218 that was set the year prior.
However, with New York’s playoff hopes falling by the wayside, general manager Sandy Alderson dismantled the team and traded away big boppers Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker. Combined, they were good for 75 home runs for the Mets before being dealt this year.
After their respective trades, the players went on to hit 31 more long balls combined. Add that up, and that is 106 homers, nearly half of the clubs total. With that being said, the Mets now have some serious work to do this offseason to replenish the offensive output that these four players produced.
We’ve seen what Cespedes is capable of when he’s in the lineup, but how many games will the Mets get from their high-priced slugger in 2018? His OPS+ over the last three seasons with the Mets are 155, 136 and 132, respectively.
In his past two seasons, he also has a .367 wOBA and 135 wRC+ and .369 wOBA and 135 wRC+, respectively.
A healthy Cespedes could also see him correct his fielding. In 2017, he saw his UZR dip to -2.9 and was good for two defensive runs saved (DRS) over 630.2 innings in left field.
For a point of reference, in 2015 where he appeared in 159 games between the Mets and Detroit Tigers and spent 1,022.1 innings in left, he had a 18.8 UZR and was good for 15 DRS. That year he also captured the Gold Glove award.
He split time between center and left in 2016, the former of which he vastly struggled at when holding down the position. He had a -10.6 UZR in 495.1 innings and had -7 DRS.
The veteran will spend a majority, if not all, of his time in left where he has historically better numbers. If he focuses on staying healthy this offseason and carries that into the season, there’s no reason why he can’t return to what we have seen from him at that position in the past.
The Mets are going to be trying to fill a lot of holes by external means for next season, and there are a lot of question marks with returning players.
Michael Conforto‘s status is up in the air for the beginning of the season, and it’s unclear as to what level of play he will return to upon coming back.
Cespedes is one of the senior members on this club and will have to step up and live up to that monster contract, and the Mets will certainly need it.