Re-signing Yo was clearly the most important thing on Alderson's off-season laundry list. There was no longer any questions amongst those in the front office is Cespedes was "worth it" from a money and personality standpoint. Honestly the only thing that is really surprising about the re-signing was the fact that the Mets "only" had to shell out $110M over 4 years. In today's era of big and long contracts, $110M seemed quite light from total dollars standpoint.
Regardless, Cespedes has found a home in New York and it has shown in the stat line. As a NYM, Cespedes has posted a .282 AVG/.903 OPS with a 8.2% BB rate. That's 13 AVG points higher, 113 OPS higher, and 2 % points better on the BB rate. There should be no doubt that Cespedes will continue to anchor this line-up with his destructive power for at least the next 2-3 seasons.
When Sandy traded for Yo, I was ecstatic, although I had followed Fulmer and truly thought he'd make a good major league starter. The best trades, though, are those in which both teams make out well, and even though Fulmer was the ROY this past season, without Yo we didn't make it to the '15 World Series nor would we have been a play-off team in '16. When he signed his short-term deal with opt-out after the '15 season, everyone knew that short of blowing out a body-part there was NO WAY he wouldn't opt out. What few knew for sure, but most prayed for, was that Sandy would find a way to convince Mr. Cespedes to stay in his beloved New York (as well as convincing the Wilponzies to pony up for a $100 million+ contract to keep him in the Big Apple!)
I have to admit, I have an "inside spy" - someone whose buddy plays golf with Yo pretty regularly, who admitted to my "spy" last year that all things being equal, as long as the Mets were in the ballpark of other offers, Yo planned on coming back to enthrall his New York fanbase for years to come! Sandy knew it, Cespedes really made no secret about it, and we were blessed- and I do NOT use that word lightly- to have the most exciting position player in our line-up every day for the next 4 years this side of Mike Trout (and, living in SoCal and being an Angels fan, I get to see TROUT all the time, too!) While writers were wondering if signing Cespedes to a guaranteed contract meant he wouldn't work as hard during the season, I had to laugh, because anyone who knows Cespedes even a little knows how serious he takes not only his work but his status in the game. Cespedes has gone on record as saying he'd like to stay in great shape for another 10 years so that he has a chance at becoming a Hall of Famer some day. Admittedly, he got a late start by losing early years to being in Cuba and then getting adjusted to the US version of the game as well as adjusting to life in general in America. I'd say that, based on how his career has progressed, I wouldn't want to bet against him achieving his goal.
I also had the chance to speak with representatives from both the Padres and Diamondbacks over the past 2 years via attending various baseball dinners, as well as last years' All-Star FanFest, and the one thing I asked each of them was this- "Is the Cespedes we are seeing with the Mets an example of what we can expect to see in the future?" Everyone I spoke with were unanimous in both their praise for our Leftfielder, as well as pretty confident that his pride and ethic would drive him to play just as hard once he signed an MLB contract. When Professional Scouts, Front Office Execs and Player Personnel experts are united in thought, there's a pretty darn good chance that their thinking will become truth.
We all know that a motivated, healthy Cespedes is capable of so much- gold glove defense, a rocket for an arm in LF, huge home run power in any park at any time, great base-running (when he's focused and not injured) and a bat capable of producing a plethora of singles, double and triples in huge amounts. It's not just the numbers - it's watching the catches that remind me of Bo Jackson; it's seeing the rocketing homers that remind me of the quick-wristed Hank Aaron; it's the joy of playing the game that reminds me of Griffey Junior that make Cespedes baseball's version of "must see TV." Therefore, I'm going to go out on a very short ledge and predict that a healthy Yo will provide 36 homers, 112 RBI's, a .550 SLG Avg and an OPS above .880 while playing Gold Glove caliber ball in LF. In short, what we should become used to seeing from a more consistent Cespedes.
Finally, I have to admit- I recently ordered another Yo tee, this one a traditional name/number tee, as opposed to the cartoon-like ones I had ordered last year. I own over 90 Mets tees/jerseys combined (to go with another 30 or so non-Mets baseball tees and about 15 non-Met jerseys) - but I also have a pile of "lost souls" t-shirts of former players that have been banished to another room in the house, on the top shelf, in the very back of the closet. I was praying that Yo's tees wouldn't join the likes of Mike Cameron, K-Rod, Delgado and Dickey any time soon- now, I can happily say that my birthday gift to myself this year will be an authentic Cespedes jersey- and THAT is one of the fringe benefits of Sandy signing Yo to a long-term deal. After all, it's the LEAST I can do to support the Wilponzes!!!!! And Yo?? See ya when you come out here to SoCal and San Diego this year, and, most likely, I'll have to come see you in CitiField, too- because you, my friend, are worth the trip!!!