The Washington Nationals made a run at signing Yoenis Cespedes last offseason, should they go all in and try to sign him this winter?
The Washington Nationals had a very successful 2016 campaign. They won 95 games, won their third N.L. East title in the past 5 years, but again came up short in the first round of the playoffs. Once again in the playoffs, the pitching was very solid, but the Nats lacked the one guy to step up big, and get the clutch hit when they needed it most.
After a solid year like the Nats had, it is easy to just say regroup, don’t really mix things up, and get back after it with the same group next year. But, there is one free agent that could completely change the franchise, and instantly make them a World Series favorite. That player is Yoenis Cespedes.
Yesterday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Fanrag Sports tweeted that the Washington Nationals are one of the biggest threats to the Mets re-signing Cespedes:
Last year for the New York Mets, Cespedes hit for a slash line of .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBIs. Cespedes finished eighth in the N.L. MVP voting, and won his first Silver Slugger award of his career.
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Although Cespedes will demand a contract most likely upwards of $125 million, he is the impact bat that the Nats need in their lineup. If they were to sign Cespedes, the Washington Nationals could move Trea Turner back to his natural position of shortstop.
This would also give the Nats many options of what to do with Danny Espinosa. They could try to move Espinosa for bullpen help, and keep Wilmer Difo as their backup infielder. Another option would be to use Espinosa in a super utility role off the bench.
The struggles of Espinosa are a big reason the Washington Nationals need another impact bat in their lineup. With Wilson Ramos leaving looking more like a foregone conclusion, the Nats will need another offense threat to replace his production in the lineup.
Signing Cespedes would also greatly impact the Nationals biggest competition in the N.L. East, the New York Mets. Cespedes is clearly the Mets biggest offensive threat, and if he was lost, it would greatly decrease the capability of their offense.
If Cespedes was signed, the Nationals would most likely move Bryce Harper to center, play Cespedes in left, and move Jayson Werth to right. This would make the team worse off defensively, but for as great of a hitter as Cespedes is, the Nats could deal with the defensive drop off.
The title window for the Washington Nationals is slowly closing, and they need to take advantage of the chance they have right now. With Harper only signed for two more years and three teams in the N.L. east in rebuilding mode, the Nats need to maximize their title potential as soon as possible.
Although Cespedes would cost the Washington Nationals a lot financially, he is the type of player that could put the team over the top, and help the Nats bring a title to D.C. next fall.