The drumbeat of social distancing goes on. But as Rob Manfred says, baseball will happen….eventually. And the New York Mets will have a left fielder too. Or will it be a few left fielders? This whole quarantine thing is managing to make seasons possible that seemed impossible. In other words, those we thought would miss large portions of the the season are now in play. There was a time Yoenis Cespedes would strike fear into opposing pitchers. Then he signed with the Mets. Okay, that’s not fair, he did hit 31 home runs and was an All Star two years ago. But that was two years ago. Now he’s 34, and thanks to his lingering issues J.D. Davis, among others, got his chance. So what will happen in 2020?
The Young Gun
J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith all played left in 2019. But McNeil is penciled in as the starting thirdbaseman, Nimmo is another neck injury away from perhaps being out of the league, and Smith is another foot injury away. The one left is J.D. Davis. The former Astro hit .307 with 22 home runs once he was given a chance. His second half was particularly intriguing, batting .333 with power. But once spring training began he, perhaps trying to prove himself, actually tried in an early spring training game. As such, he injured his shoulder. He returned on March 8th no worse for wear, but then the league shut down.
The Former All Star
And who should appear in the meantime? The man with many incentives to play in his contract of course! That’s right, Yoenis Cespedes announced he would be ready for opening day, then completed all the spring training activities to prove it. Yes, he hit 31 homers for the Mets in 2016, and 17 homers in only 57 games in 2015. But what’s happened in the meantime? Hamstring injuries decimated a promising season in 2017. Then in 2018 it was a cavalcade of injuries. It started with a quad injury, then a hip flexor, then morphed into a shoulder impingement. Soon Cespedes was having surgery on both his heels for calcification issues relating to both of his achilles. Just when you were trying to figure out when he would come back from surgery the mother of all insane things happened. In May of 2019 he was on his ranch and managed to twist his ankle in a hole in the ground while avoiding a wild boar. Because of course he has traps for the boars on his property and tends to them himself. This was no ordinary ankle twist. He ended up breaking his right ankle in multiple places.
The Mets are dying to compete in 2020, and Cespedes is dying to play. All the money in the world (in this case $9 Million just for plate appearances) can’t return Cespedes to his 2016 form. It’s more likely Cespedes injures himself when spring training begins again than starts the year on the active roster. J.D. Davis is not injury prone, he just dove for a ball and was held out for caution. The contact/power combo is set to thrive in 2020. Let others bid on Cespedes, and grab Davis for a discount for the last time.