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Yankees 2016 Potential Free Agent Target: Yoenis Cespedes

After powering the Mets to the World Series, could the power-hitting outfielder help the other New York team reach the Fall Classic?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have three starting of now.  But just because they already have three doesn't mean the Yankees can't find ways to improve.  Brett Gardner trade rumors are already flying, and if they do manage to move him, they'll need someone to fill his spot until Aaron Judge is ready.  With Carlos Beltran coming off the books after next year, they could sign an outfielder to a long-term deal to team up with Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury for the foreseeable future.  One of the best outfield options just took one New York baseball team to the World Series, so why couldn't Yoenis Cespedes push the Yankees over the top in 2016?

Cespedes began his career in Oakland, displaying some solid power, a steady bat, and a cannon for an arm.  He posted a 136 wRC+ in his first year with the A's, and a 102 in his second season.  In 2014 (his best season in the majors up to that point), he managed a 109 wRC+ and a 3.3 fWAR with the A's and Tigers, proving to be a good - but not great - all-around outfielder.  He's always shown a lack of patience at the plate, as he walks too little and strikes out too much, but it hasn't prevented him from always being an above average hitter with some nice pop - he's hit 20-plus home runs in every season he's been in the majors.

Cespedes, as most of you know, almost single-handedly turned the Mets offense around in the second half, propelling them past the Nationals, into the playoffs, and all the way to the World Series.  While Cespedes has always been a good hitter, he has never been better than he was over the last two months of the 2015 regular season.  Before coming to the Mets, Cespedes hit .293/.323/.506 with the Tigers - good, yes, but not terrific.  After two months in the National League, some people talked about him as if he might somehow win the NL MVP.  That's what hitting .287/.337/.604 with a 157 wRC+ in the midst of playoff race will do.

That's where the rub comes in - Cespedes is a nice player, but not a borderline MVP candidate.  He played like one for two months at the end of last season, and that's what people will remember - and what the team that eventually signs him will likely pay for.  But that's not who he's been for the vast majority of his career.  Steamer projects him to have a 111 wRC+ next season and be a 3.1 fWAR player.  That's about in line with what he's been since he arrived in the majors, and while there's a chance he's a bit better than that, it's quite unlikely he'll ever be as good as he was in 2015 again.  The Yankees need to avoid overpaying him when he probably won't reach that level of production ever again in his career.

Cespedes is predicted to cost about six years and $140 million. Should the Yankees shell out top dollar for a bat like his when he's likely to go back to being about a three win player next year?  I'd say no - I'd prefer them pay a bit extra and get the younger player in Justin Upton. Still, there's no doubt that Cespedes would be a good player for the next few seasons in New York.  He can play good defense, and the Yankees need more right-handed power to balance out their lineup.  Cespedes could do all this, and perhaps more.  If his price comes down a bit as the offseason, and the Yankees want another above-average outfielder, Cespedes would be a good fit. However, his value will likely be far too inflated after his stellar end to 2015 to make him the best option for the Yankees this offseason.