I knew all along that flashy MLB free agent Yoenis “La Potencia” Céspedes, a 30-year-old slugger from the Cuban countryside, would never leave New York City. Urban life and the bright lights of Broadway were simply too intriguing for La Potencia, and the big stage seemed to beckon his flair for the game of baseball. The only question that remained was this: In which borough would he hang his hat?
For a while, the notion that Céspedes might seek employment in The Bronx instead of another stint in Queens seemed to be a possibility, at least for a New York minute. As it turned out, though, that was pure folly manufactured by La Potencia’s representatives from Roc Nation Sports. Yes, Céspedes is once again a New York Met, signing on for a three-year, $75 million package. The interesting part is that Céspedes can opt out of the deal after the upcoming season, pocket $27.5 million for his services, and then hit the open market again in 2017.
Prior to agreeing to the pact, it was rumored that Céspedes and Jay-Z, his agent, had approached New York Yankee executives and owner Hal Steinbrenner about matching the Mets offer, and then presumably pick to play in traditional pinstripes. The Washington Nationals also had an offer on the table for a reported $100 million over five years. But even though Céspedes said he craved a long-term deal, the Nats’ overture must have seemed like chump change. So the smart move was to settle for the Mets’ proposal, along with the exit clause, and see where the chips fall in the future.
La Potencia would have been useful to the Yankees.
In my opinion, La Potencia would have been useful to the Yankees. A right-handed power bat would have balanced out a lineup stacked with lefty swingers like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. What’s more, Carlos Beltrán is a banged up warrior who has announced that 2016 will likely be his swan song. What’s more, it would have been interesting to see a relationship develop between Céspedes and Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban Missile. The pair would have probably even roomed together while on the road.
The Mets, by contrast, have a surplus of outfield depth. Curtis Granderson, the classy senior statesman, is under contract through 2017. Another veteran, Alejandro de Aza, inked a one-year deal worth almost $6 million this winter. The future of the franchise, however, clearly rests with Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares. Maybe both kids could use an extra year of grooming, but they’re not going to fine-tune their skills by sitting on the bench.
The Mets’ strength is pitching, while their weakest link is scoring runs. That’s where they don’t stack up well against division rivals like Washington, or even the Miami Marlins, a club that offers a more versatile offense with exceptional speed. In such a scenario, Céspedes will be counted on to light up the scoreboard with bombs, as well as stabilize a shaky Mets defense with his glove and rocket arm. So in that respect, the tricky contract is worth the risk.
I can’t help wonder whether La Potencia will take the Mets for a one-year ride, or prove his loyalty by sticking with the program. Then again, he could always court the Yankees for another pot of gold and see if they take the bait. Whenever one plays in New York and has God-given talent, it’s always a win-win situation.