Could there be another power-hitting outfielder on the horizon? According to a report from the New York Post, the Detroit Tigers were one of nearly a dozen teams to attend the showcase of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes recently. Cespedes, 35, is coming off a limited 2020 as he recovered from a crazy wild boar incident in the offseason that resulted in ankle fractures (though he wouldn’t be the first in the organization with a weird injury).
In addition to the Tigers, the report names the Yankees, Blue Jays, Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Reds, Cubs, White Sox, Padres, and Braves among the teams that were there.
A signing would offer a reunion of sorts; the Detroit Tigers traded the Boston Red Sox Rick Porcello and Bryan Villareal for Cespedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier in the offseason heading into 2015. He’d hit .293/.323/.506 for the Tigers before they did the famous ‘re-tool’ coined by then-GM Dave Dombrowski. From there, Cespedes went on a tear for the Mets, hitting 17 home runs in 57 games and propelling the club to the World Series that year.
But Cespedes is now far removed from his 2015 self, missing the entire 2019 season and only appearing in eight games in 2020. Last year, he would hit .161/.235/.387 across those limited appearances. Although it is tough to judge such a small sample size, it is fair to wonder if an aging player with a recent and serious leg injury will be able to make a full recovery. Even if he isn’t his 2015-self, it may still be an improvement.
Then comes the fit–it isn’t ideal. The Tigers already have Nomar Mazara and Robbie Grossman patrolling the outfield corners with Daz Cameron and Victor Reyes lurking right behind them. The DH spot is there, but that figures to be rotated between Miguel Cabrera and others already.
As far as how the showcase went, well, it is difficult to tell; but MLB Network’s Jon Heyman said Cespedes ‘impressed,’ while the article in the New York Post piece had this quote from a scout: “Yup, he’s still a physical wonder and somebody you can dream on.”
On a more somber note, there is also this:
If the Tigers want to make it work at all, they would have to have some positional flexibility with Cespedes; as a full-time DH would not work. On the other hand, a DH role would still essentially rule out any National League competition for his services. From a fit perspective, it still seems unlikely Cespedes lands a deal with Detroit.