Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox could make Yoenis Cespedes available this offseason in his column on Sunday.
Word is spreading that the Red Sox could make Cespedes available. He will earn $10.2 million in the final year of his deal. Cespedes said late in the season that he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sure whether heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d engage in long-term talks with the Red Sox. Couple that with his desire not to play right field or work on his defense, and that could make him a trade candidate as the Red Sox try to pare their outfield depth and possibly make room for Mookie Betts or add a lefthanded hitter
Well……there is an impact bat that the Reds could get to fill their left-field hole.
Cespedes is coming off a slightly disappointing season based on what you would have expected from him. Between the A’s and Red Sox, Cespedes hit .260/.301/.450 with 22 HR, 100 RBI, 109 wRC+, and 3.4 WAR. Those numbers are a far cry from when Cespedes finished 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year, and 10th in the MVP voting when he came on the scene in 2012. That season, Cespedes hit .292/.356/.505 with 23 HR, 70 RBI, 139 wRC+, and 2.9 WAR in 129 games.
2014 Yoenis Cespedes would still be a major upgrade from the Reds 2014 LF production.
Ok, so maybe a major upgrade was a bit of an understatement?
Cespedes would make the Reds offense in 2015 a lot better. Early projections from SteamerÃ‚Â project him to hit .271/.322/.473 with 23 HR, 83 RBI, 119 wRC+, and 3.0 WAR. Obviously, Cespedes’ .301 OBP from 2014 was well below the league average of .312, but he is projected to jump back above that next season at .322. Getting on base was certainly one of the Reds biggest issues in 2014, and something that needs to be addressed. However, Cespedes’ consistent power makes him an above average hitter even if he only gets on base about 30% of the time. He is also a great defender in left-field, who has the ability to play center-field. Cespedes has 17 DRS and a 9.6 career UZR/150 in over 2300 career innings in LF.
I can already picture the Reds lineup with Cespedes, and it is beautiful thing (and you can shuffle 2-6 however you would like, or even drop Hamilton to 8th or 9th):
Cespedes only has one year remaining on his contract, and will get paid $10.5 million in 2015. With each win using wins above replacement being worth over $5 million, he would certainly be worth well above $10.5 million for 2015. It would certainly be unlikely that the Reds could re-sign him past 2015 with their already allotted payroll, but you never know.
The biggest problem with Yoenis Cespedes isn’t his OBP, or even his $10.5 million contract. It is what it would cost to get him. I would assume that the Red Sox aren’t look for prospects for him (something the Reds don’t have a lot anyways). This is a team that is only one (not even finished yet) season removed from being the World Series champs. The only reason that I would believe the Red Sox would want to trade Cespedes would be to get better right away. And after trading their ace Jon Lester to get Cespedes at the trade deadlineÃ‚Â (maybe a move they planned on flipping from the beginning), they need something the Reds have: starting pitching.
The Reds have three really good starting pitchers who are set to be free agents following 2015: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Mike Leake. So would any of those three be worth trading for Cespedes?
There is no way the Reds should trade Cueto straight up for Cespedes. Cueto is coming off a 4.1 WAR season, where posted a 2.25 ERA and 3.20 FIP. Steamer projections for Cueto are a bit slim for 2015, saying Cueto will only be worth 2.7 WAR. That still isn’t enough to me to make want a Cueto for Cespedes deal straight up. Cueto has a $10 million option for 2015 that will certainly be picked up, so he and Cespedes will be making about the same amount of money next seasons.
The only way I would consider a Cueto for Cespedes deal would be if it included another major league ready starting pitcher to replace Cueto (Joe Kelly), or a solid prospect.
Latos for Cespedes seems like as fair of a trade straight up as you could possibly imagine. If the Red Sox are looking to trade Cespedes for a young established starting pitcher, this would would seem like the best fit. Latos is coming off a season where he only made 16 starts, after batting arm injuries all season. Despite some serious concerns with his declining fastball velocity, his numbers were only slightly down from his outstanding 2013 season (3.25 ERA, 3.65 FIP).
This would be a move that the Reds could make to to significantly include their offense, and then have a direct focus on the future. The Reds could then cross Latos off the list, and focus on extending Cueto and/or Leake. The Red Sox certainly have the payroll flexibility, so a player with only one year left on their deal wouldn’t likely be a big concern for them.
To this point in Mike Leake’s career, he has been an average MLB pitcher. He was certainly a solid starting pitcher in 2014, posting a 3.70 ERA, and a career best 3.88 FIP. Leake drastically improved from 2013 to 2014 in K/9 (5.71 to 6.89). That is certainly encouraging. With that being said, it would be pretty hard to believe the Red Sox would even consider Leake for Cespedes. My gut feeling would be that the Red Sox would want a top of the rotation starting pitcher for Cespedes. A deal for Leake would have to have a lot of other pieces surrounding it.
Alfredo Simon or Tony Cingrani
The Reds farm system certainly isn’t loaded, and it would be hard to believe the Red Sox would be looking to rebuild. I am sure Robert Stephenson or Jesse Winker for Cespedes could have a lot of potential, but I don’t think the Reds should look into giving away a top prospect for a 1-year rental player.
Walt JockettyÃ‚Â should absolutely be on the phone with Ben Cherington about Cespedes. There is no way the Reds can resign both Cueto and Latos past 2015. If the Reds could get a player of Cespedes caliber, and maybe even more for a starter they are already going to lose, I say go for it.