With Yoenis Cespedes now officially grounded for this season and into 2019, what’s next for the Mets?
"Well, certainly when you don’t have one of your best players on the field, you need to look at your team differently," assistant general manager John Ricco said Wednesday.
He was trying to explain the unknowns facing Cespedes — and the team — with their star outfielder facing two separate surgeries on his heels.
The only certainty is that Cespedes is out for the remainder of this season. The larger issue is his predicting his availability in 2019. Ricco said the doctors gave an 8-10 month timetable but added that it could be longer.
The Mets have to figure out how to address the need of replacing Cespedes’ bat in the lineup. But not yet, Ricco said.
The nonwaiver trade deadline is July 31, but Ricco, auditioning for the vacated general manager's job along with two other team executives, doesn’t seem inclined to make any significant moves in a power hitter to fill in for Cespedes. To be clear, the Mets are sellers at the trade deadline, not buyers of outfield talent or probably any other position. And the Cespedes news apparently has not changed that thinking.
Rico was asked if insurance money to be claimed on Cespedes' injury will be invested in finding a new power hitter. “We haven’t gone down the road to what this means toward our plan moving forward,” Ricco said. “Generally we don’t get into details of the insurance policy.”
Not having full GM authority, it’s not Ricco’s decision to make. The Mets also have collected insurance on David Wright, but no direct line can be pointed to what was reinvested from the unknown proceeds received on his injury. Cespedes is owed $29 million next season and $29.5 million in 2020, according to spotrac.com.
Ricco said based on what they now know about Cespedes, there is no intention to make any "radical" changes in the short term, explaining that any moves in that direction would be taken into consideration in the offseason. That would suggest trades or free agency. But don't expect the Mets to bid for Bryce Harper.
The healthy starting outfielders are Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, who became a revelation after being afforded playing time with the injuries and ineffectiveness of Jay Bruce. Bruce has two years left on three-year, $39 million contract he signed last January. It’s unclear how Juan Lagares, who hit a bit before getting hurt, fits into the plans. Jose Bautista, who turns 38 in October, is available to any team that wants him in trade. In any event, he is not expected to be re-signed for next season.
Rookie manager Mickey Callaway, assuming he is here, has indeed thought about next season.
"I think going into the offseason, it probably changes some of our thoughts about how we field a team next year," Callaway said, "so I’m sure we’ll have discussions about that."