Everyone knew that the Red Sox were going to trade Jon Lester, but the deal they struck still managed to surprise. I was worried about a trade with the Baltimore Orioles that would keep talent inside the division, so I guess this is a bullet dodged, but it doesn't quite feel that way. Boston is sending Jonny Gomes and some cash west to Oakland, in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance draft pick.
This deal points to something we already knew -- Boston intends to compete next year. There is no down cycle for the Evil Empire II. Cespedes is a good major league outfielder who is owed $10.5 million for each of the next two seasons. That's a good value, so it frees the Sox to spend their considerable resources elsewhere in the free-agent market. Let's look a bit more closely at what the Rays will be facing for the next two years.
Cespedes is 28 years old, and has now logged 1546 major league at bats.
That's not an elite hitter, but it's nothing to scoff at. In this new, low run scoring environment, the .208 isolated power makes him very valuable. Moreover, he does not need to be platooned. Cespedes has been 32% better than average against lefties and 11 % better than average against righties.
Cespedes has power to all fields.
And that power should thrive in Boston. Let's compare park factors for the two stadiums from FanGraphs. A number below 100 means that the stadium suppresses that type of hit by 100-x percent. Above 100 means it increases it by x-100 percent.
Over his still-short career, Cespedes has played both in center field and in left field. In 1980 innings in left, he's been 7.4 runs better than average per 150 games by Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). In center, in 600 innings, he's been -14.7 runs below average, by UZR.
That's more than the normal difference between center field and left field, so the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Likely, Cespedes is a slightly above average corner outfielder. It is worth noting that much of that value has come from his arm. If he plays in front of the Green Monster in Fenway, some of that will be wasted, but I'm sure he'll spend much more time in right field.
This is an interesting move for the Athletics, but I think it's a strong play by Boston. Yoenis Cespedes will be a pain to face 18 times a season