PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.
Yoenis Cespedes only appeared in simulated matches for the Mets in spring training, as he did again on Monday as he faced Marcus Stroman on the stadium field in Clover Park.
But the possibility of his return as a legitimate power club is becoming more real by the minute – or as quickly as the team’s decision makers allow.
Based on where Cespedes is along his rehabilitation timeline, with only 16 days left before the opening day, it seems unlikely that he will be ready to contribute to Citi Field on March 26th.
We will concede a lot, though. From our point of view, often behind the backstop of these simulations, Cespedes does not seem too far from being his own self that deals damage to the pot again. It’s just a matter of how soon the Mets can feel comfortable with him as he pushes his surgically repaired ankles, including multiple fractures to the right one, thanks to that boar attack on his Florida ranch.
Everything is constantly moving in that direction. Just last week, Cespedes was updated at top speed at first base – a significant milestone – and the Mets hope that it will move to other bases in the very near future.
The next step is to have him DH with full mobility on the basepath in a simulated game, then finally play left.
A quick look at the calendar suggests that by the end of this month he won’t be able to recover that soil in the Grapefruit League. However, the Mets refuse to exclude anything at this stage.
Part of this is the delicate nature of Cespedes’ reworked contractual situation in his walking year, but also because it would be foolish to underestimate his extraordinary athletic ability – when he is healthy.
“We didn’t state the opening day or not the opening day,” said general manager Brodie Van Wagenen on Monday morning. “We felt really good about where he was running to base this on [past] week and we will try to build it. ”
Van Wagenen, in his previous life as an agent, negotiated the current four-year 110 million Cespedes contract. At the time, the average annual value of $ 27.5 million was a record for an external player and corresponded to Alex Rodriguez for the second highest ever for a position player.
Wearing his GM hat this winter, Van Wagenen and general manager Jeff Wilpon first recovered $ 6 million from last year’s $ 29 million salary, then brought a machete to the 2020 Cespedes paycheck, bringing the final season to a base of $ 6 million as a sanction for unapproved ranch-related conduct during his rehabilitation.
Now Cespedes has to recover everything it can from the $ 17.5 million in incentives, starting with the $ 5 million that comes from joining the Mets for the regular season. This sum is distributed proportionally, based on the activation of Cespedes, and has another $ 9 million linked to the accumulation of appearances and another $ 3.5 million in bonus bonuses.
Since it was already March 9, I wanted to ask Cespede how the rehab was going, but he said he didn’t have time on Monday.
“Tomorrow,” he replied.
So as we await its update, here are some comments from its recent simulated games.
We saw Cespedes hang a couple of hard bats on Jacob deGrom last Friday, once pushing him seven shots before flying deep right on a slider 3 and 2. On Monday, Stroman was bad and Cespedes managed only three balls of ground before a strong throw-in.
“He looks good,” said Stroman. “It looks like it’s getting healthy, it seems it’s progressing. Obviously, it’s a huge weapon. It’s grinding hard every single day in the weight room, in the training room, doing everything that needs to be done. I love seeing it and I hope it does all that. who can, so he can be out there with us helping us open the day. ”
Cespedes was obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time when he ended up in what turned out to be a very expensive altercation with that boar. But it appears to be right where it needs to be recently, and it may blush much earlier than I expected.
Cespedes fully participated in the off-road practice as he prepares to play left in the action of game speed. And if it is not yet suitable, it must be close.
“We were very happy with where he is offensively,” said Van Wagenen. “He has worked hard for his ongoing progression and we will continue to develop it.. We take it very carefully every day and we have not stopped at this point, so we will continue to look forward every day as a new step.”
Little steps, perhaps. But with a bigger win at stake, Cespedes looms bigger on the horizon and is no longer a mirage.