The St. Louis Cardinals have a very young outfield. With the absence of a veteran, taking a flyer on Yoenis Cespedes could be smart.
The St. Louis Cardinals‘ outfield is one of the few spots this spring where the team has any real kind of position battle.
Right now, Harrison Bader is the longest-tenured outfielder at just 26 years old. After trading away Dexter Fowler, Bader is sliding into the leadership role that is open, but the team could always add a longer-tenured major leaguer to help out.
The options that the team has right now are between Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Austin Dean, Justin Williams, and Lane Thomas. The first three on the list are the top picks to make up the Opening Day outfield, but could Yoenis Cespedes be a good option to fill a veteran role?
To start, Cespedes has had a rocky couple of years. After debuting in 2012 with the A’s, Cespedes bounced around a little until he ended up on the Mets in the middle of the 2015 season. From 2015 to 2018, Cespedes averaged a .285/.341/.534 slash line which was good for a 135 OPS+ over that time. Twice he hit more than 30 homers in a season.
Cespedes signed a four-year, $110M extension with the Mets prior to the 2017 season that just ended. While he was great while he was playing, that playing time waned in the later seasons. In 2017 he played just 81 games before playing 38 in 2018 and none in 2019. This was due to a persisting ankle injury due to a run-in with a wild boar.
In 2020, Cespedes played just eight games with the Mets before opting out of the season.
On Tuesday, the 35-year-old held a showcase for teams interested in signing him, the Cardinals were reportedly not in attendance.
This situation may seem like a volatile one, but that will keep Cespedes’ price low. The Cardinals skipping out on his showcase likely means there is no interest from their side, but they could always swing back around.
Cespedes is average (at best) at this point in the outfield but had a cannon of an arm earlier in his career. He makes a better DH option than a regular corner outfielder, but Cespedes’ value all comes from what he still has in his bat.
Cespedes only played eight games in 2020, but he hit two homers. There is no way to really weigh this other than to point at it like a kid and say, “look! look!”
Cespedes would add an experienced presence for a very low cost and without the baggage that signing someone like Yasiel Puig entails. There is also the chance that Cespedes can provide more of a power threat than a player like Williams or Dean that the team already has.
It’s easy to argue that Cespedes is washed up and the Cardinals clearly don’t have interest, but he’s a guy that would be interesting to see fit in this Cardinal outfield, especially at a dirt-cheap cost.