As the trade deadline approached on July 31st, the New York Mets seemed to be in the trade market for a middle of the order bat. There were numerous options out there with the likes of Ben Zobrist, Jay Bruce and Justin Upton. And then all of a sudden, the Mets had a deal in place that would give them outfielder Carlos Gomez from the Milwaukee Brewers for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores.
This trade was perfect from a Mets standpoint. They were receiving a top-of-the-lineup bat in Gomez, who provides that rare speed, power combination to go along with tremendous defensive ability from a premiere position in center field. In return, giving up a pitcher in Wheeler, who wouldn't be 100 percent healthy until July 2016, and a shortstop in Flores who is average at best.
This deal made everyone happy from the front office to the fans, as they finally got the bat they needed. However, it all came to a sudden halt when Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson was interviewed after their July 29th trade, and stated that their would be no trade with the Brewers. Amidst the crying of an upset Wilmer Flores during the game, the Gomez trade fell through as quickly as it came to fruition, leaving the Mets back at square one.
Coming into that Wednesday night game, the Mets were only one game back in the N.L. East to the rival Washington Nationals, so they were right in the thick of things. Sandy Alderson knew that a couple of trades, or even one player, could be the difference in the Mets making the playoffs in 2015.
As the deadline got closer and closer, it didn’t appear the Mets would make a big splash after all. They made a small deal getting Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Atlanta Braves, but that didn’t exactly knock everyone’s socks off. Those two players were certainly upgrades from what the Mets had, but they wouldn't be mistaken for All-Star's.
But then July 31st came about, and there was still hope that the Mets would go out and get a bat. Jay Bruce’s name resurfaced, as the Cincinnati Reds were open to dealing for the Mets’ Wheeler, despite him being out until next July. That rumor gained some traction, but it fell through about an hour after it came up. So with one hour left until the deadline, it wasn’t looking good for New York. But with just 13 minutes left until the non-waiver trade deadline would pass, the Mets made a move that would completely change their season.
The Mets had acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers for minor league right-handers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. Cespedes was everything that the Mets were looking for, and even though he would most likely be a half season rental, Alderson saw that with the current pitching staff of the Mets, that it was time to go for it. Cespedes was bringing over his .293 batting average, 18 home runs and 61 RBIs, and he would fit right into the three-hole in the Mets’ lineup.
Right off the bat, people thought it was a great move for this year's Mets team but not for the future. Cespedes is a free agent at the end of the season, and had a clause in his contract that would only give the Mets five days after the World Series was over to re-sign him. It was definitely something to think about, but the Mets needed this deal like no other, making the clause in his contract a moot point when pulling off the trade.
Ever since the Cuban outfielder arrived, Cespedes has been a godsend and has completely put the Mets team on his back. In just 36 games with the ball club, Cespedes is hitting .312 with 14 home runs, 36 RBIs, and has a ridiculous 1.032 OPS. He has been nothing short of great, and could very well be the best player in the National League right now.
Which leads us to this question, should Cespedes be a legitimate contender for National League MVP? Absolutely. While he is putting up crazy numbers, he gives the Mets a threat in the middle of the order that they haven’t had since the combination of Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado in 2006. The Mets were just two games back of the Nationals when they acquired Cespedes, and now they are seven games up, thanks to a 24-11 record since the deadline.
Sure, the big argument is that Cespedes hasn’t been in the National League long enough to be considered, playing in less than 60 games when the season would be over, but the definition of a Most Valuable Player is what they bring to a team and could the team be just as good without him. And in the case of the Mets, no way. The Mets could still have a possible lead in the division, but it certainly would not be a seven-game lead without Cespedes.
His numbers have been outstanding since joining the club, but he also comes up with clutch hit after clutch hit. On Tuesday night, Cespedes had a bases clearing double to help aid the Mets comeback, and then last night he had the game-winning two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning, both at-bats coming off reliever Drew Storen.
Another thing to look at is how good the Mets’ offense has been since the trade deadline. New York leads the National League in runs, home runs, total bases, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS. Yes, the Mets’ roster has gotten healthy, with the returns of David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud, but Cespedes has been right in the middle of everything. He gives the Mets depth, and a legitimate threat in the middle of that lineup, which is part of being the Most Valuable Player.
Cespedes does have some work cut out for him with the Writer’s Association being old school and that they will take his games played into effect, but he should absolutely be considered. In terms of numbers, Bryce Harper should run away with it, but his team hasn’t helped him one bit and they are falling quickly.
Next, there are both Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt, who consistently put up big numbers, but they are also part of two teams that are completely out of it, and that’s definitely something that factors into an MVP vote. Then there is Anthony Rizzo, who like Cespedes, has completely taken the weight of his Cubs team and put the pressure on his shoulders, and has them headed to the playoffs. Lastly, there is Zack Greinke, who not only might win the N.L. Cy Young Award but will certainly be in the top-three of MVP votes.
Cespedes may not win the MVP, but for people who think that he should not even be considered for it, are crazy. The Mets have picked up nine games on the Nationals since the deadline, have the best offense in baseball during that time period, and his clutch factor is out of this world.
A Most Valuable Player is someone that a team cannot consistently win without, someone that changes the gameplan of the opposition, and someone that carries a team to the postseason. Yoenis Cespedes has done just that, and if he keeps it up until the end of the season, he should be the National League MVP.