Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Yoenis Cespedes, in an attempt to minimize his leg issues long-term, has suggested to the Mets front office that he would like to play first base, at least part-time.
As a result, he has not only been shagging fly balls while rehabbing back from his injuries, but also taking grounders at first base in an attempt to learn the position.
However, John Ricco poured some cold water on the idea of this switch happening right away.
“We know he is open to the idea. That is something we have to discuss long-term if that works. He is taking grounders to see how it feels. That is the extent of it so far. We hope to have him in rehab games during the All-Star break. We still anticipate that he comes back as an outfielder. But we have had discussions, and he is open to first base.”
Sherman’s source, though, would be surprised if Cespedes did not appear in at least one game there this season and Ricco did admit later that there is a legitimate shot they will actually go through with this plan.
“There is a chance we do that. It is kind of the early stages of how he looks out there. You would love to have spring training to get ready. But if he has the aptitude for it and guys [the coaches] feel he can do it, you may see him over there.”
Cespedes has played third base before, but that experience was from when he was still in Cuba.
Nonetheless, his willingness to play the position is an interesting twist in the Mets plans not only for this year, but for the future as well.
While keeping him healthy for the remaining two years, after this one, of his four-year, $110 million deal is important to the team, this switch would change the outlook of the Mets future drastically.
For starters, it would put the Mets in position to play Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Jay Bruce in the outfield regularly. However, Bruce has proven to have his own health issues and he is not the most agile when healthy either, so the team was always hoping to be able to play him at first base, at least part-time as well.
The other, and probably more severe wrinkle, is that this would effectively block Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso from ever getting their chance at the position. Alonso, in particular, is in very high regard in the organization and the Mets would be in a serious predicament with him long-term if Cespedes renders the position unavailable as Alonso is not currently capable of playing any other position.
It remains to be seen how seriously they pursue this, but it sounds like it’s more than just buzz.