Remembering Yoenis Cespedes' Bizarre Stint With Red Sox


It never was boring with Yoenis Cespedes.

That reminder came about Sunday afternoon after the outfielder became the talk of baseball when he failed to show up for the Mets game against the Braves, with New York issuing a statement that it didn't have any idea where Cespedes was or why he wasn't in attendance for the series finale.

Ultimately, halfway through the Mets' loss, Cespedes got word to the Mets that he was opting out of the 2020 season, for all intent and purposes ending a bizarre five-season run with New York. 

It was the time of chaos that the Red Sox got a taste in just a matter of two months in 2014.

Cespedes came over from Oakland at the non-waiver trade deadline straight up for Jon Lester. The A's offer represented the only option presented to the Red Sox in a Lester trade that would bring back a major-league piece. The Sox could have had the likes of Baltimore's Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' promising minor-league pitcher, but Boston ownership liked the idea of showing its fan base it was getting back a proven commodity in exchange for the popular lefty.

It seemed to make some sense. Cespedes was under contract for another year beyond 2014 and represented the middle-of-the-order outfield bat the Red Sox had been searching for since the exit of Jacoby Ellsbury. (Grady Sizemore hadn't exactly worked out.) The Cuban slugger had already hit 17 homers that season with the A's, making the American League All-Star team. His arm was also a human highlight reel, luring people into the idea that he was an above-average fielder.

He could run, throw and hit for power. Seemed like a logical complement to David Ortiz and Co.

But signs of trouble cropped up immediately. After then-general manager Ben Cherington specifically cited Cespedes' ability to patrol the spacious Fenway Park right field in an introductory conference call, the outfielder spent exactly one day working out at the position before being shifted over to left. The player's desire to play right clearly wasn't strong, limiting his the effectiveness of that athleticism the Red Sox had been drooling over.

So Cespedes became a left fielder. The problem was that he really had little interest in that spot, either.

Pleas to fine-tune his craft by then-outfield coach Arnie Beyeler weren't met with any sort of enthusiasm by Cespedes, who seemed more interested in living the life of David Ortiz as a designated hitter. And when the outfielder started throwing balls back into the infield underhand, it only further exasperated the Boston brass.

Cespedes would go on to play in 51 games for the Red Sox, hitting .269 with a .719 OPS and five homers. That offseason he was dealt along with reliever Alex Wilson to Detroit straight up for Rick Porcello, with the Red Sox needing to commit four years, $88 million to Hanley Ramirez for the same role they envisioned Cespedes filling.

That following year Cespedes would actually win a Gold Glove while playing left field for the Tigers and Mets, being dealt at the deadline for a second straight season. In total for 2015, he finished with 35 homers and an OPS of .942. He had another good year in New York in 2016, finishing eighth in MVP voting after slugging 31 homers.

Then the wheels started coming off all the way until the Cespedes Express came to a grinding halt Sunday. Who knew that Boston might have been the birthplace of at least some of the drama.

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