New York Yankees: 5 Reasons They Must Sign Yoennis Cespedes
If I asked you a month ago who Yoennis Cespedes was, how many people would have been able to answer correctly?
I don't know if you noticed, but I'm not raising my hand either.
Now, if given enough time, I think that eventually I would have remembered that he was an über-talented Cuban outfielder that I had heard about quite some time ago.
Then again, maybe I am giving myself entirely too much credit.
More likely, I would have told you that he was somebody who has never been in my kitchen.
But we know who he is now, and who he needs to be is a member of the New York Yankees.
After the jump, five reasons why Brian Cashman needs to make signing this soon-to-be free agent a priority.
A Phenomenal Athlete
Remember Bo Jackson?
That's the comparison some scouts have made about the 26-year-old Cespedes:
“It’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t like him,’’ a scout said. “He looks like Bo Jackson and ran a 6.3 60 [yard dash]."
Whenever you can add a Bo Jackson-type athlete to your team, you do—because they do not come around often.
A Righty Bat to Replace Gardner Against Lefties...
...that does not sacrifice speed.
Now I am not saying that Yoennis Cespedes is as fast as Brett Gardner—fact is, very few people are.
But Cespedes has a set of wheels on him.
With the left-handed Gardner showing once again in 2011 that he has trouble against left-handed pitchers, Cespedes, who hits from the right side of the plate, becomes a viable option to replace the speedster in the lineup.
Doing so could allow Joe Girardi to leave the rest of his lineup untouched, should he choose to.
The Farm Is Devoid of Impact Outfielders
If we are being honest and not overhyping our prospects, the Yankees' farm system has no impact outfielders anywhere near being ready for prime time.
Greg Golson and Chris Dickerson are both fourth outfielders at best, and neither one provides much in the way of power.
Slade Heathcott has been mediocre at best thus far in his minor league career and will likely start the season in High-A ball.
Mason Williams, the man I consider to be the Yankees' best OF prospect, will likely be starting the season in Low-A ball.
Justin Maxwell, acquired from the Washington Nationals prior to last season, is 28 years old, a year removed from Tommy John surgery and a .201 hitter in 122 major league games.
Should something happen to Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher or Brett Gardner that keeps them out of the lineup for an extended period of time, the Yankees simply do not have a viable option to replace them.
Yoennis Cespedes is the man that gives the Yankees the best chance of winning should something like that occur.
The 2013 Free-Agent Class Is the Year of the Pitcher
Have you seen who the free-agent class of 2013 includes?
I'm just talking about starting pitchers.
There are probably 15-to-20 starters that the Yankees could have genuine interest in, that is how deep it is.
The big ticket items, of course, include Matt Cain, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and Shawn Marcum.
That doesn't include guys like James Shields, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Jake Peavy, players whose current teams may or may not exercise fairly expensive options on them.
My point is that while the outfielders on the market are intriguing in their own right—a list including BJ Upton, Josh Hamilton, Andre Ethier and Ichiro—the Yankees will likely focus their time and money on pitching in 2013.
Nick Swisher Is Not the Future
I like Nick Swisher, and I am not "attacking" him because of his continued disappearing act in the postseason.
He is a great teammate and I think he genuinely loves being a Yankee. It's entirely possible that the man bleeds pinstripes.
I would certainly love to have a beer with the guy and talk to him for 10 minutes. We all would.
Swisher will be 32 after next season and looking for a long-term deal while he is still a productive outfielder.
If he makes the All-Star team again, that will only drive his price up.
Who would you rather give a long-term contract to—a known commodity whose production is likely to decline over the length of the deal, or a 26-year-old with unlimited potential?
We all like Swish, but his future lies elsewhere.
At the End of the Day...
...nobody knows how Yoennis Cespedes is going to perform against big league pitching.
While I personally have not seen much footage of him playing the field, there are those who claim that he has an excellent glove and an above-average throwing arm.
Chances are that his athleticism alone would allow him to play any of the three outfield positions.
Scouts say his power potential is legitimate:
"He has big power. During the workout at Santiago, he hit balls out of the stadium.’’
What do the Yankees have to lose?
If he turns out to be as good as advertised, they just added a dynamic bat in his prime into the middle of their lineup and kept him away from their competition.
If he turns out not to be great, the Yankees have an expensive fourth OF on their team and will still pursue other players that they are interested in.
That's one of the great advantages that the Yankees have—the ability to absorb an expensive mistake without sacrificing their quest for another World Series championship.
Hit or miss, Yoennis Cespedes is worth rolling the dice on.