Cespedes would be a near perfect fit for the Indians
A lot of attention is on the Red Sox at the moment after their blockbuster free agent signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval on Monday. The Red Sox are still looking to add more pieces through free agency, but suddenly the focus around baseball is who they may trade in the wake of their spending spree.
Ramirez is expected to play left field for the Red Sox, a position they were already knee deep with options to begin with. It looks certain that they will trade at least one of their outfielder, though they may end up trading two or three of them when all is said and done. The Indians could use an outfielder and should at least check in with the Red Sox to see what they want for their surplus in the outfield.
The Indians are pretty locked up with contracts for position players throughout the roster, but the two areas they could use an upgrade are at third base and right field. Even with all of his warts and inconsistent play, Lonnie Chisenhall will probably get another year as the regular third baseman for the Indians.
The same can’t be said in right field.
Right field is a position that the Indians could use some help as David Murphy is not an everyday player. They either need a very good right-handed hitting option with good platoon splits to complement him, or they need a regular everyday option to supplant him and push him to more of a fourth outfielder role.
When looking at the Red Sox there are a lot of interesting trade possibilities, but the one player who interests me the most is Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes, 29, pretty much fits everything the Indians need in their lineup, defensively and from a contract standpoint. He is far from a perfect player as he surely has his warts, but he is a good player and someone who I believe could impact the Indians roster.
Last season Cespedes hit .260 with 22 homers, 100 RBI and .751 OPS in 152 combined games with the Red Sox and Athletics. For the advanced metric fans, he also had a 115 wRC+, .190 ISO and 3.4 WAR. What is most interesting is how consistent he has been in his three year Major League career. In all three seasons he has hit between 22-26 homers, racked up 80-102 RBI, scored 70-89 runs, struck out at an 18.9% to 23.9% clip, walked at a 5.4% to 8.0% clip and been a 2.2 to 3.4 WAR player.
Those are some good numbers across the board, no matter how you look at them. They are not superstar level, but that is a pretty valuable and consistent player nonetheless.
Obviously there are some concerns as Cespedes has seen a gradual decline in his walk and strikeout rates going from an 8.0% walk rate and 18.9% strikeout rate in 2012 to 6.4% and 23.9% in 2013 to 5.4% and 19.8% last season. His power has also been in gradual decline going from a .214 isolated power in 2012 to .202 in 2012 and then to .190 last season. He also does not walk much so he carries a less than desirable on-base rate.
Even with those concerns and the gradual decline in his performance, the important thing to note is that an acquiring team would only be on the hook for the final year of his contract for $10.5 million. It would be one thing if he had three or four years left on his deal and was making $15 million or more a season, but for one year and around $10 million that is a pretty good gamble that he will continue to be at least a slightly above average or better player in 2015.
The Indians are very left-hand oriented with their lineup. They have three switch-hitters with Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher along with five left-handed hitters in Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis and David Murphy expected to be in their everyday lineup. The only everyday right-handed bat they have in the lineup is Yan Gomes.
The addition of Cespedes would not only give them a middle of the lineup alternative, but would help balance the lineup a little more by taking Murphy’s left-handed bat out of the everyday mix. Cespedes would probably hit fourth or fifth in the lineup and bring some production capabilities into the mix as well considering he hits better in the clutch. For his career he is a .303 hitter with an .867 OPS with runners in scoring position, a .435 hitter with a 1.038 OPS with the bases loaded and a .295 hitter with a .815 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position.
By inserting Cespedes into the four spot of the lineup, a spot he has spent most of his Major League career in and had good success, it may also help take some of the pressure off of Carlos Santana which may bring more consistent production out of him. Santana would slide to the fifth spot or even be moved into the second spot in the lineup considering the high rate he gets on base and him being a switch-hitter.
Defensively, Cespedes is probably an average defender so there would not be too much of an impact there, though he would still be an improvement over Murphy and Ryan Raburn. On top of that he has one of the best arms in the game and would help keep runners from going first to third or second to home on the Indians. He has not played right field in his Major League career but is open to playing there and certainly has the arm for it.
The contract is what should be most inviting to the Indians. The Indians currently have three prospects in Tyler Naquin, James Ramsey and Carlos Moncrief who they feel very good about that could eventually take over the full time right field duties by the end of the season. Even Bradley Zimmer could enter into the mix sometime in 2016. Ramsey and Naquin could also be center field options in line to replace Bourn if he were traded, but at the moment right field is their best opportunity to break into the big leagues. With Murphy and Raburn both only signed for one more guaranteed year and with three good prospects on the verge of potentially helping them, they would probably prefer to avoid any multi-year commitments for right field this offseason via trade or free agency beyond 2015.
The Indians have roughly $10-15 million to spend this offseason. Their biggest needs are a backend pen arm, defensive improvement and a right-handed bat for the middle of the lineup. The addition of Cespedes would obviously eat a majority of their available money, though if they acquired him they wouldn’t need to add much more from a Major League perspective except for that backend pen arm. Most importantly, his contract would not affect anything they want to do beyond next season.
The key in all of this is what the Red Sox will demand in a trade for Cespedes. Given his good performance in his three-year career to date and low risk contract, they undoubtedly will have a ton of suitors for his services. What it ultimately takes to land him will be fleshed out by the market and the intensity in which teams chase him these next few weeks. If the Red Sox play their cards right, he could be one of the biggest storylines to follow at the Winter Meetings in a few weeks and bring them a good haul in return.
Of course, the one thing that will hurt the value the Red Sox get in exchange for Cespedes is that an acquiring team cannot offer him a qualifying offer after next season. In almost every case a team can extend a departing free agent a qualifying offer in order to get a first round draft pick as compensation, but his case is unique. He was signed to a four year deal which under normal circumstances he would just be arbitration eligible after next season and still under a team’s control because he has less than six years’ service time to be considered a free agent. But like most international players signed to a Major League deal, it was written into his contract that he has to be non-tendered after the fourth season thus making him a free agent and because he is non-tendered a team can’t extend a qualifying offer.
The Red Sox will probably want Major League value in return, so in the end the key to all of this is whether the Indians match up with what the Red Sox want and if the Indians are willing to part with it. The Red Sox will surely look for pitching in exchange for Cespedes, something the Indians have a lot of at the Major League level but not much depth behind it where they may feel comfortable parting with a young pitcher they control the next several seasons.
Finding a good fit and something the Red Sox are interested in and then selling that to them is the job of Indians GM Chris Antonetti and his staff. Time will tell whether or not there is a fit to be had here, but there is no doubt that Cespedes would be a nice addition to the roster and help fill a big need for the Indians going into next season.
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Supposedly,Boston asked for Porcello from Detroit in exchange for Cespedes.the Tribe isn't trading Bauer ,Salazar or Carrasco and their multiple years of control for a one year rental.If they'll take Tomlin or McAllister and prospect then there may be a deal, but I don't see that happening.
Yea maybe. But I'm one (perhaps of the few) who thinks that Murphy has real value to the Tribe in 2015. He's very versatile and does pretty well against RH pitchers, on a reasonable one-year deal. He has value because I think that this team, if Bourn stays w us, needs four solid OF'ers. Injuries, esp to Bourn, are likely to happen. Murphy is great as a platoon option and one of four solid guys.
I think it's true that Murphy is a decent trade chip (hard to know what the Rangers think of him though, seems like he kinda sucked his last year there...), but to me, Hagadone is our most valuable and expendable trade chip. Hagadone is exactly what a lot of teams need and fortunately for us, he's a bit redundant w Scrabble and Crockett.
Another name that I think could make a lot of sense (at least to me) is Mookie Betts. He's definitely not a middle-of-the-order hitter, but he's REALLY good and RH, and would give us more speed a la the Royals. For me it just makes more sense to look for potentially great young building-block-type players whose path is blocked or for some reason undervalued by other teams instead of breaking the bank for one year of service.
I wonder if Murphy would get Rua from the Rangers. Murphy was well liked there, and would give them a vet bench bat, 4th OF.
Also when everything is considered I think a 1-yr (possible option yr) for Kouzmanoff makes WAY more sense than any deal for Headley.. Especially when everyone is whining this how cash strapped the Indians are.
Agreed, I think the Dodgers like his pop off the bench and affordability, no need on their part to trade him. The Indians would have to trade something of value for him. If they could swing Nick Hagadone for him Id do it. That might get their attn. a power LHRP with multiple yrs of control.
A cpl other players on the Red Sox I would like to see the Indians inquire about are young SP prospect Matt Barnes, 24 and RH hitting RF prospect Bryce Brentz, 25. Brentz prospect status has slipped, but, when given the chance in the bigs he showed well in a short audition. Brentz is a guy I think could be at least a role player / platoon type (think SVS) maybe more...I think he gets caught in the roster crunch with the Red Sox and might eventually be DFA or traded.
I think Cespedes just fits exactly what they are looking for, a one year guy and stop gap in right field who fills a middle of the order need and such. I am not sure the Red Sox will get what we think for him considering he has one year left and there is no chance to extend a QO. Perhaps the Red Sox just keep him and trade one of their other outfielders.....but I think they want to keep the others and try to get what they can for Cespedes now. Will be interesting to see what he ultimately goes for.
Then trade Swisher bad contract for bad contract. Maybe a trade with Chicago Jackson or Baltimore Jimenez.
If those two trades happen, we would be pretty solid. Go Tribe
Sure he is a good hitter, but the inability to use a QO on him clearly reduces his value going forwards.
Carlos Carrasco and Scrabble for Yoenis Cespedes and Brock Holt
Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister for Yoenis Cespedes and Matt Barnes