Yankees: Sign Cespedes, Trade Montero?

The Potential

The big rumor of the week circling the Yankees has been their overwhelming interest in Cuban defector, Yoennis Céspedes.  On the surface this move looks to be the end of Yankees fan favorite, Nick Swisher.  Céspedes is a natural center fielder with plus speed and a plus bat; and could very well be an upgrade for the Yankees if moved into right field.  The Yankees will almost certainly deal Swisher, as they will not want to carry a 4th outfielder earning a $10 million salary.

To me, moving Swisher would be the obvious move, but surely not the biggest ramification of the Céspedes signing.  By signing the 26 year old Cuban phenom, the Yankees will have also notched another young hitter that Yankee fans can watch for years to come – someone for the Yankee faithful to get behind and be excited about.  Maybe someone that gives the Yankees a feeling of youth, and power at the plate that a certain, Jesus Montero, currently exudes.   This move does a few things in my eyes:  Montero is the big piece of the puzzle that becomes available with the Céspedes signing.  Swisher gets moved. Yankees make a run at Felix Hernandez, or another top flight young ace.

When you look at the prospect of Montero being a long term player for the Yankees, a few things don’t really add up.  Many scouts will verify that Montero is not a major league quality catcher, and may not even grade out (defensively) higher than three catchers currently in the Yankees organization.  So taking this into consideration, and assuming that Montero does not fit in as a defensive catcher – where does he play? is he a DH? can he play 1B?  The obvious answer is that Montero would be slotted in the DH spot for years to come – but not so fast.  The Yankees have the DH spot filled for years to come with aging, large salaried vets that will need days off, or eventually have to become full-time designated hitter(s).  This puts Montero in flux with a defensive position.

Céspedes put up a .333/.424/.667 batting line with 89 runs, 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games in the 2010-2011 season.  These types of power numbers are very similar to what Montero could provide, but with also providing the Yankees a very capable right fielder, and another true threat on the base path.  This guy is a five-tool threat all the way.

In Closing

The Yankees have been completely silent all Winter – but maybe they are just taking the snake in the grass approach, assessing the possibility of dealing Montero for the top flight, true number one pitching stud, while not losing the high quality bat in the organization.  I truly believe that this signing could be the most beneficial move that the Yankees have made in a long time, and open up the possibility of landing the King.

After all – we know that there is nothing better, and no equal to a dominant pitching staff in October .

 

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  • http://twitter.com/Justin_McElrath Justin M

    This is the truth. Having Montero will be more of a negative than anything over the next 5-10 years. Tex has first, Arod is undoubtedly getting more time at DH, as will Jeter and Romine and Sanchez are better young catchers. Montero has the name and the value right now, so deal him when the return for him would be the highest. 

    • http://twitter.com/smilow Marc Smilow

      I agree completely Justin….. and as I said above add Nunez into the mix…

  • Tanned Tom

    Getting rid of Swisher is obvious? He’s easily in the top 20 of the 90 MLB OFs. His OPS of .823 was the same as A-Rod’s last year, and only a few points behind Teixeira’s. Only Granderson and Cano had a markedly better OPS. He has a positive attitude, gives it his best always, is 31 and a comparative bargain at $10 mil for 2012. You want to ditch this player for a completely unproven Cuban ballplayer? Thank goodness you’re not the NYY GM.  
    As for Cespedes, I have no idea what his numbers would translate to in the bigs, and neither do you, or anyone else. All we have is a guess. Sign him and see what happens? Perhaps. Trade away Swisher so Cespedes can play RF, no way Jose.
    Now when it comes to Montero, he had all of 61 ABs last season, so let’s wait and see what he can do. The real question will be can field any position at the ML level? Catchers have been turned into 3Bers before (Joe Torre comes to mind), and although it’s a stretch, Teixeira was a college 3B so maybe they could switch him (ala Kevin Youkliss) and move Montero to 1B (A-rod to DH), also catchers have been moved to LF (Yogi Berra spent alot of time in Death Valley). If he can’t field passably, then he’s DH material, which as you point out already has a queue on this team.
    Since 2014 is the crucial deadline here (when the new CBA takes effect) don’t look for the Yanks to sign too many players to long term deals. If they wouldn’t sign a pitcher this off season, for which there is a real need, it’s unlikely they’ll sign a position player.

    • http://twitter.com/smilow Marc Smilow

      TRADE NUNEZ AND MONTERO neither of them have a strong future with the Yankees in my opinion.  Lets us them while they still have high value to other teams.

  • Bernard S

    I disagree with your comment.  Montero looks like the 2nd coming of Muguel Cabrera and maybe even Manny Ramirez.  He showed an example of what he can do at the major league level.  Hitters like him don’t come along often.  He looked pretty decent catching in the one or two games in the majors.  Besides he has excellent teachers that can work with him.  Tony Pena would be a natural.  

  • Gemmullins

    stockpile as much talent as u can and then it would be easier to pull the trigger on a deal for king felix or some other stud

  • http://twitter.com/samc1224 Sam C

    Cespedes has those numbers in the Cuban leagues which is around an A/AA level. His swing doesn’t look that great from the video, and his ego from the video seems to high to be able to handle the ups and downs of the major leagues. I’ve never been a fan of this guy, and giving him up for Swisher (who had one bad series and everyone is calling for his head) seems to me like the worst move possible. That and your signing a 26 year old prospect, who since he’s from LA and there is a history of age adjustment from Latin American players you have to worry if your going to get any improvement from him. My guess is with a 4 year deal you get 1-2 years of prime play and the rest his age decline.