Yoenis Cespedes to the Braves? Not a bad idea, but not likely

Yoenis Cepedes in BP before Game 5 of the World Series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Yoenis Cespedes before Game 5 of the World Series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

One thing we know about John Coppolella: There’s no move he won’t consider. Latest reports hold that Coppolella’s Atlanta Braves have some interest — “some” being the key and loaded word — in Yoenis Cespedes, the free-agent outfielder.

I can see the Braves being intrigued that one of the three best position players of this FA class remains on the market. (The other two were Jason Heyward, who signed with the Cubs for $184 million over eight seasons, and Justin Upton, who hasn’t signed with anybody.) I can also see reasons why nothing will come of that interest.

1. Cespedes is not an up-and-comer. He’s 30. Over four big-league seasons, he has played for four teams. Over those four seasons, he has a career WAR value — using Baseball Reference’s formula — of 15.8, which makes him roughly a 4.0 WAR player per year. That’s not bad. Neither is it MVP stuff. (Heyward’s WAR value the past two seasons was 12.7.)

2. Cespedes is a big bat, which the Braves could use, but he’s a big bat coming off the two best months of his career, which means his price probably won’t drop enough for the local club’s liking. Over August and September, Cespedes hit 17 homers, drove in 44 runs and posted an OPS of .942. Here we cherry-pick the best numbers of Cespedes’ three previous seasons — an OPS of .861 in 2012, 26 homers in 2013 and 100 RBI’s in 2014. He was so good as a Met that some wondered if he should be considered for National League MVP even though he spent two-thirds of the season in the American League. But, having never been that good before, is he apt to be that good again?

3. Cespedes proved on Kansas City’s first at-bat of the World Series — he played Alcides Escobar’s line drive into an inside-the-park home run — that he’s not really a center fielder. The Braves already have a 30-year-old Cuban (Hector Olivera) slotted for left field and an $11-million-per-season man (Nick Markakis) in right. For the Braves to make a place for Cespedes, they’d have to trade one of the two. That’s not a Cespedes-deal-breaker in and of itself. (Olivera is unproven and Markakis is overpriced and, as mentioned, Coppolella lives to trade.) But that’s a lot of moving parts this late in the offseason. Pitchers and catchers report to Disney on Feb. 19.

4. Through all the Braves’ machinations under this general manager (and even before Coppolella was officially the GM), the watchword has been “value.” The Braves were willing to absorb $10 million in dead money for Bronson Arroyo — much of that soon offloaded to L.A. in the Olivera trade — because they valued the teenage pitcher Touki Toussaint at way more than that. Rarely does a team find value in a player of Cespedes’ profile. On the contrary, teams always overpay for a big hitter. Maybe the Braves could work a short-term deal for Cespedes that wouldn’t skew the team’s payroll for the next five years, but why would he do that? Say he takes a one-and-done contract? Wouldn’t he want the one to come with a contender?

5. Just me talking here: I’ve always liked Cespedes as a player. Billy Beane will argue forever that Oakland’s offense was already going south when he made the deal that sent Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester on July 31, 2014, but the cold truth is that the A’s with Cespedes had the best record in baseball and without him were reduced to a wild-card team that lasted one postseason game. He showed with the Mets, albeit in a two-month flurry, that he can make a difference, and not many players can. I’d love to see him try to make a difference as a Brave, but it’s not my money. (Though I am a Cobb County taxpayer, so I guess some of it will be.)

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
unbridled
unbridled

I'm sure Coppy threw it out there, as if he and the 2016 Braves are even the slightest bit relevant in the upcoming season.


What a PR joke! 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Oliveras is a 30 year old virtually untested injury-prone rookie trying to learn a new position who is under contract. If HE would keep the Braves from signing Cespedes some GM needs their head examined.

I saw where the KC Royals payroll is now over $130 million.Yes, the Braves need to invest more in payroll, but they seem to be trapping themselves in a never ending cycle of horrendous contracts (Bourn, Swisher now). On paper they don't have enough pitching to win 60 games, they need to cut their runs allowed by a full run a game. Until some of these young pitchers emerge any free agency investment in a bat like Cespedes is pretty much a waste of SOMEBODY'S good money. Don't risk perpetuating the misery.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

As one of the resident "Negative nancy's", I do like the team the Braves are putting together for this season. I think they will battle. People laughed at our infield of Bream and Co. back in 1991.......

Brando21
Brando21

I disagree that Markakis is "overpaid." His OBP and experience are a bargain to a young team with no corner help. 

patriotdog
patriotdog

I can see this happening. Right after the Hawks bring back Danny Ferry and Dimitroff admits he knows nothing about drafting linemen....or drafting, period.

Edgar
Edgar

After the O's signing of 1st baseman Chris Davis the market has been set and someone will sign Cespedes in a few days. The Mets have offered him a 1 year deal already and a couple of other teams have expressed some interest in him the Braves being one of them. Why? I have no idea. If they were expecting to be competitive this season it would be a good pick up.

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

If the Braves traded Markakis, they would be selling low, since his power numbers were way off last year due to surgery. Trading Olivera before giving him a chance wouldn't make much sense either.  The outfield is actually one of the better parts of the team. 

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

Paging Mr. None, Paging Mr. None

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Bradley,

I don't understand your comment that Markakis is overpriced(maybe in comparison to the rest of the Braves Roster). But if you compare his 2015 offensive stats to your "WAR" hero Jason Heyward's I think Markakis is a bargain $10M a season compared to Heyward's new $20+M a season contract with the Cubs. Of course JHey has the potential for a break out offensive season ,but as far as current offensive production for the price ,Markakis has better value.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

Plus he's not a pitching prospect coming off TJ surgery, so that's two strikes against him right there.

UnbiasedObserver
UnbiasedObserver

No way this is happening.


Braves aint spending $$ on anybody.


They rather get their goods at Big Lots.

ChopItUp
ChopItUp

I said at the end of last year that they should pursue Cespedes. With the last trade the Braves had my curiosity, but by adding Cespedes, they will have my attention. 

tmndc
tmndc

Coppy may sign him, but only so that he can then trade him  for pitching prospects and dead money contracts. 

Zing
Zing

Though it's a long shot, I could see them making this move to try to re-energize the fan base, which is demoralized right now.  It's also kind of clever, because hey - lots of people like this guy, there will be a trade market if the team isn't doing well; so Plan B would be to send him out the door in June or July in exchange for... wait for it... more young pitching!

Brando21
Brando21

@Zing only stupid fans are "demoralized." The smart ones are excited about the rebuild, which is going extremely well.


Autoeac
Autoeac

A big bat might just get a few folks heading down to the stadium this year otherwise I'd say that "too busy for loosers" atlantans will find other things to occupy their time. 

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

I think they actually want as few butts in the seats as possible this year so they can blame to decision to move on low attendance - even if only to themselves to sleep at night.

mark513
mark513

This is where ownership are what ever you want to call it, needs to step up. It's not my money either, but having stripped down the payroll over the last 18 months its time to spend some money. Your long term bet is mostly in the minor league but  a guy like this gives you a fighters chance this and next year. Plus how much more revenue would flow through if you stay at or above .500 much of the season. Don't know if his bat would be enough but with Markakis healthy, Freeman and Cespedes line up looks a lot better.