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2016 Mets season preview: Yoenis Cespedes

He's back.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes will play for the Mets again this year. When that news first broke, it didn't really sink in right away, but now that spring training is underway and there are plenty of new photos of Cepsedes in a Mets uniform, it feels real.

The Mets may or may not have made the postseason last year if they hadn't traded for him, but we know that they did trade for Cespedes and did make the postseason. When the team got him from Detroit for minor league pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa, it was a sort of changing of the guard. When the team re-signed him, it really was a changing of the guard. Sure, the Mets had signed free agents over the past few years—Curtis Granderson, for instance—but they hadn't done anything that approached bringing Cespedes back.

You will hear, and probably already have heard, that it would be nearly impossible for Cespedes to repeat his performance upon arriving with the Mets at the trade deadline. That is merely stating the obvious, though. In 57 regular season games with the Mets, he hit .287/.337/.604 with 17 home runs. In the first 41 of those games, he hit .309/.356/.691.

Over the course of the 2015 season, the very best slugging percentage in baseball belonged to Bryce Harper—at .649. Mike Trout was the second-best at .590. So whether you're looking at what Cespedes did in all of his regular season games with the Mets or the super-ridiculous first forty-one, the guy produced at a Trout-Harper level for a while. If Cespedes doesn't hit like that over a full season this year, it should be neither surprising nor disappointing. It definitely doesn't mean he'll be bad, either.

The major projections are all roughly in line with Cespedes's career numbers: decent average, average-ish on-base percentage, and above-average slugging. By wRC+, last year was the second-best season of his four-year major league career thus far. It was also his best in terms of home runs, as he hadn't hit more than 26 in a single season in his first three years but hit 35 home runs last year.

If Cespedes even comes close to matching what he did last year, that's excellent production for a center fielder. The defense is center will surely come up, but in his time at the position with the Mets, he didn't look terrible. His most glaring mistakes came at the worst time—the World Series—but his overall play looked passable there. And his arm works from anywhere in the outfield.

Considering there's an opt-out clause in his contract after this season, it's entirely possible that Cespedes will hit free agency again this winter. He spoke of wanting to stay with the team for all three years of his deal at the press conference about the deal, and whether or not he meant it or was saying what Mets fans want to hear, we know that he's a Met for the 2016 season. That alone should be pretty enjoyable.