There are two MLB teams that can grab their jocks and front hard in a B-boy stance today. The MLB free agency entered and departed on July 31 and the NY Mets and Toronto Blue Jays -- both sitting in second place in their respective divisions at the time -- made some windmill style power moves by acquiring immediate stud help. It was an emphatic sign that they are gunning for the No. 1 spot and appeasing fans desires with a “win now” posture.
Both squads capitalized on the Detroit Tigers’ shameless salary dump. (Detroit will save over $12 million in salaries for trading its Ace Joakim Soria, Closer and All-Star outfielder this season)
The Tigers have conceded to the fact that they must begin to rebuild aspects of their squad and were thus willing to depart with some major talent. A few days after trading declining Jose Reyes for Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto was able to get “Black Ace” and former Cy Young winner David Price from the Tigers to bolster their rotation as they try to catch the first-place Yankees.
The Mets, who have all of the young gun pitching in the world and a run-generating game as limp as a eunuch, were in desperate need of a quality bat or some bonafide slugger with an intimidating rep to help their anemic offense (ranked 29th out of 30 MLB teams). GM Sandy Alderson finally stopped pump faking and took a shot by trading a couple of pitching prospects from their talent-laden farm system for rising star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets also added two pro bats in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson to the offensive mix. The moves have been paying immediate dividends.
Mets fans have a right to be excited and are familiar with Cespedes, who dazzled the Citi Field crowd at the 2013 Home Run Derby with his power and plate presence. Cespedes also won the 2014 Derby by demolishing Todd Frazier 9-1 in the finals (the largest margin of victory in a HR Derby Finals). In the process, Cespedes joined Ken Griffey Jr. (1998 and 1999) as the only players to win consecutive Home Run Derby titles He’s also a defensive monster with a rifle for an arm.
While getting acclimated to his NY digs, the 29-year-old outfielder’s presence in the Mets lineup inspired them to a three-game sweep of the Nationals this past week. It was a sweep that propelled them into a tie with Washington in the NL East standings.
Then right on cue, Cespedes (2-for-8 as a Met up until that point) introduced himself to Mets fans on Monday night in a 12-1 blowout win over the Miami Marlins. Cespedes went 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. All three of his hits were doubles, which tied a franchise record for the most in one game. It also gave him 31 doubles for the season, tying him with Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis for the MLB lead. With the victory, the Mets now hold a one game lead atop the division.
In the words of Rakim, “It’s been a long time,”
About a month ago, the Mets record stood at 40-37, 2 1/2 games behind the Nats for the lead in National League East, with injuries abound and a nightmare slate of opponents ahead of them. From June 30 through Sunday, they endured a hardbody 28-game clip that featured 22 matchups against the Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants—five of the National League’s best six teams. The Mets rode their able arms to a 15-13 record over that span. A bad stretch could have killed their playoff hopes before help could arrive. And if the Mets did crumble, be sure that Alderson wouldn't have gotten the OK to dip in the piggy bank and swap for Cespedes.
There's even better news for Mets fans. NY Mets’ opponents through the end of the season entered Monday with a combined winning percentage of .455, giving the Mets the weakest strength of schedule in the major leagues from here on out. The Cubs and Giants, whom the Mets are chasing in the NL wild-card race, both have remaining schedules above .500.
Not to be outdone by Cespedes’ grand arrival in New York, in his first start for the streaking Blue Jays, who have won four of their last five diamond dandies and sit 5.5 games behind the Yankees, Price was on fleek in leading Toronto to victory over fellow Wild Card contender the Minnesota Twins. Now in Canada, Price was the same lean, mean pitching machine that he’s been his entire career, fanning 11 suckas over 8 innings in a 5-1 win.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Price was traded to the Blue Jays on July 30, one day before the MLB trade deadline. In return, the Detroit Tigers acquired top prospect Daniel Norris, left-handed pitcher Jairo Labourt, and another left-handed pitcher, Matt Boyd.
While both of these moves will surely help the Mets and Blue Jays’ playoff hopes, fans shouldn’t get too comfortable seeing these guys in uniform.
Both players are free agents at the end of the season and at this point, they are no more than rentals for a couple of months. Price was acquired by the Blue Jays in hopes of him aiding a playoff run this season before Price hits the open market looking for a sweet retirement plan. It’s going to take mega gwop and a major marketing strategy to get these studs to remain with their current squads once free agency hits. Ball-busting outfielders with sick wings and potential 20-game winners are an elite commodity in baseball and they are compensated accordingly. As far as retaining Cespedes goes, the sands of the hourglass are moving with each passing day.
Cespedes, obtained Friday, has a clause in his contract that stipulates that he must be released after the World Series if an extension with the Mets is not worked out by then. (Officially, he must be released before the free-agency period begins.)
So unless the Mets start tossing cash before Cespedes can test the market -- which seems doubtful -- Cespedes will play elsewhere next season.
Any player released after Aug. 31 cannot sign a major league deal with that same team until May 15 of the following season. So the Mets essentially would be precluded from re-signing Cespedes once he gets to test the market in November.
Normally, players accumulate six years of major league service time before entering free agency. But it is not uncommon for players with significant professional experience in other countries, like Cespedes in Cuba, to negotiate deals allowing them to be released sooner than six years.
NY Mets fans are in happy-land-heaven right now, but when the winds of October roll around and the playoff run is over (The Mets may win a World Series in a few years but not this one), and Cespedes is packing his bags to go and be courted by the sexiest organizations in baseball, Mets fans will be sick to their collective bellies.
This could all be an illusion and then next season comes around and an offseason passes and they are back in the same boat; wasting prolific pitching from their young hurlers, counting on a damaged and increasingly aging and fragile star in David Wright to carry the load and masking big black holes in their lineup with garbage and incense.
Re-signing Cespedes is the most important and imperative move of Alderson’s stint with the Mets. It could define his legacy. Is he a bullsh*t artist or championship team crafter?
If he lets Cespedes walk out of the Citi Field gates without at least a 5-year deal, then Alderson might as well get to stepping with him.