New York Mets pay steep price for Yoenis Cespedes

The New York Mets' failed deal for Carlos Gomez was just about perfect for the club, as it brought in a bat with some impact at a position, center field, at which they have a great defender but need an offensive boost. With that off the table now that Gomez is an Astro, the Mets picked up the next-best bat -- Yoenis Cespedes -- to change teams. But this fit isn't quite so ideal, and the deal cost them the top starting pitching prospect in their farm system, much to the Detroit Tigers' benefit.

Cespedes addresses their need for power -- he's in the midst of his best offensive season since his rookie year -- but he's a chronic low-OBP guy now entering a lineup that was already second-worst in the NL in OBP (ahead only of the Padres), replacing rookie Michael Conforto, whose greatest skill in the minors was getting on base. Conforto has gone hitless since his four-hit game on Saturday, but I'd project him to post a better OBP than Cespedes' career .317 figure over the rest of the year, making the upgrade for the Mets more on the order of a win for the rest of this season, considering the value of Cespedes' power and defense over Conforto's.

In exchange, the Mets once again give up one of their top pitching prospects, Michael Fulmer, as well as another top-15 to -20 prospect in converted infielder Luis Cessa. Fulmer, the fourth-best prospect in the system before the trade, has come back strongly from a year lost to a knee injury. Fulmer is 93-97 with a plus slider and solid-average changeup, with good downhill plane from a high, three-quarter slot and the ability to spin a curveball. It's not a perfect delivery, and there's some reliever risk with the delivery, but he's already got plus control and a starter's repertoire, a top 100 prospect in baseball who is probably a year away from helping a major league staff.

Cessa originally signed as a shortstop but has already reached Triple-A as a pitcher, a starter with plus-plus command and great feel, sitting 90-92 with a starter's body but lacking the secondary stuff to be a major league starter right now. The Tigers added a pair of top 100 prospects at the deadline, plus four other prospects with some asset value, into what had been the majors' worst farm system coming into the season, a very good outcome for a somewhat last-minute decision to become sellers.

The Mets, meanwhile, shipped out seven pitching prospects, two of them in the system's top six overall prospects, for a quartet of rentals, three of whom are very low-impact acquisitions, in a year in which they gave up their first-round pick to sign Michael Cuddyer, who's been a replacement-level player this year when healthy.

The Mets and Cubs were on similar tracks coming into the season, both with tremendous farm systems that pointed toward a good five-year run of contention, if not longer, and both teams have become contenders slightly ahead of schedule. The Cubs didn't overreact at the deadline and kept their young core and system both intact, while the Mets gave a significant amount of their depth away without getting enough value in return in the various deals. It hasn't killed the Mets' future, but it's the wrong direction, an emphasis on the short term at the expense of the long term when the long term should still be the top priority.