In re-signing Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year, $75 million contract the Mets sacrificed some defense by committing to use him as their starting center field, but it turns out Cespedes sacrificed something too: He’d rather be playing left field.
Cespedes has made it clear that he’s got zero problem playing center field, but also told Marly Rivera of ESPN.com:
If I had the choice, I would stay in left field. But I will play where the team needs me. If they want me to play center field, I’ll play center field, and I’ll do the best I can. When I came here [to MLB] in 2012, I started playing center field. But that same year I moved to left field. That was a little difficult, but I got used to it already. Now I feel much more comfortable in left field. But my mind, and I’ve always said, if you are a good outfielder, you can play most positions.
New York has Curtis Granderson in right field and Michael Conforto in left field, so Cespedes playing center field most days is a huge part of their roster construction. And having his bat in the lineup at a premium position is a huge part of what makes him such an impact player, even if he’s giving back some runs on defense.
For his career Cespedes has started 382 games in left field, 104 games in center field, and 77 games at designated hitter. This season, assuming the Mets stick with their current plan, Cespedes’ breakdown figures to be about three-fourths center field and one-fourth left field.