I wouldn’t mind seeing a certain outfielder take on a darker shade of blue and keep the orange, would you?
The idea of the Houston Astros pursuing Yoenis Cespedes could be a moot point if the veteran outfielder declines his option to enter the free agent market this winter. Again, that is a big if.
Thanks to the contract that the New York Mets gave him last offseason though, Cespedes has the freedom to choose where to go once again this winter. And the Astros could be a potential landing spot if the stars aligned.
However, this does raise the question if the Houston Astros should pursue the veteran outfielder?
First, it would take a massive financial commitment to sign Cespedes. His 2016 salary was just a “small” fortune of $27.5 million. Odds are that an annual salary pushing upwards of $20-$25 million a season is likely. And you would have to spread that over at least three to five years.
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All in all, that magnitude of a financial commitment for the Astros could be asking too much from current ownership. Don’t forget that this franchise likes to get the best value that it can out of its budget. It could become a question whether Cespedes is worth that high price tag.
But Houston’s front office and ownership may need to ignore the dollars just for once.
It is time to truly examine what adding a player like Cespedes would mean for the team on- and off-the-field.
The numbers alone and the need for another outfielder make this an obvious pairing. If the veteran outfielder could actually come close to replicating his 2016 season when he posted a 133 OPS+ then that would a noticeable upgrade in the outfield. Outside of Jose Altuve, that would’ve been the best OPS+ on the entire Astros roster. Not to mention the entire outfield.
Then there is the morale boost for the club to consider.
This is still a young core that features top end talent in Altuve, Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman. Adding a playoff tested veteran in Cespedes could be beneficial for a team that is still finding its identity.
And the last time I check the Astros will have to eventually sign plenty of their players to long term contracts. A free agent acquisition of this kind of clout would also enforce the notion that ownership is willing to spend to win. And a byproduct of that could be a willingness to cooperate more with the club during what can sometimes be tenuous contract negotiations.
Even though Cespedes does look great on paper for the Astros, he does come with warning flags as a player.
Health is a valid concern for any outfielder entering his age-31 season on likely the first year of a major contract. And like any player on the other side of thirty-years old, the injury factor has to be considered. In combination with any regression going the wrong way then you could have an albatross contract.
At this point though, that is all hypothetical speculation and may never happen. Or it could. You just never know.
Signing Cespedes to play left field makes sense, but there are risks involved. The Astros are adverse to risk lately. Let’s see if that changes this winter.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference**