With the recent news that Yoenis Cespedes plans to opt-out of his deal with the New York Mets to test free agency for the second straight winter, just about every fan base is salivating at the idea of adding Cespedes to their lineup.
It's no secret that the San Francisco Giants could use a bat in the middle of their lineup to generate some power, and it's also no secret that the team would greatly benefit from signing Yoenis Cespedes to fill that void. Cespedes tallied a wRC+ of 134 in his age 30 season this year, and has been at least ten percent above league average in every year since making his big league debut with Oakland in 2012. Three of those years he has been 36, 35 and 34 percent better than league average, so there is some consistency there, and when looking to sign a player for what will amount to boatloads of money, consistency is a key factor.
Compared to Angel Pagan, Cespedes would be a big upgrade. Pagan held a wRC+ of 105, which is just a bit above average, but the biggest factor here is that Pagan's defense has been not good while Cespedes saved four runs from being scored according to FanGraphs. Pagan allowed six extra to cross the plate, so basically we're looking at a ten run difference here. That may not seem like a whole lot over the course of an entire regular season, but in the playoffs defense becomes a key factor, and the Giants outfield defense could certainly use some improvements.
Obviously Cespedes is a fit on the field, but would he be a fit in the clubhouse?
The biggest off-the-field headlines Cespedes has arguably made have been how he would roll in to spring training, using a different mode of transport each day. One of those modes was to ride a horse to camp, so maybe he and Madison Bumgarner would get along splendidly. Or maybe that kind of flair isn't something the Giants want to opt to adding.
Not since Barry Bonds has there been a character like Cespedes in the clubhouse, and not since Bonds have the Giants had a big threat in left field, so maybe the two are interlinked somehow. Whether or not the Giants make a big play for the left fielder could come down to what current leaders in the clubhouse Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner have to say. Money could also play a bit of a role here.
Cespedes was set to make nearly $24M each of the next two seasons with New York, so that's roughly the financial parameter we're working with. He would likely take a little less annually in order to get a longer deal, which is why he would opt-out in the first place. By all accounts it seems as though Cespedes has enjoyed his time playing in New York, and this could just be a ploy to get a little more of a commitment from the club.
The other way that money factors in here is that the Giants also need to upgrade their bullpen with at least one big name free agent, and perhaps another candidate as well, and they're not going to be cheap either. Chapman, Melancon and Jansen are all looking at contracts well north of $10M per year with the way that money has been tossed around lately, and could go as high as $15M/year. With another free agent reliever and Cespedes in tow, the San Francisco payroll would be approaching $200M after arbitration eligible players are sorted out.
It's not going to be easy for the Giants to sign Cespedes with the amount of competition that will be looking to add his services to their own clubs, but he could certainly provide a boost to this club with his power, adding a new dimension to an already solid team.null