Yoenis Cespedes will immediately bolster power-starved Red Sox outfield

Ryan Hannable
August 01, 2014 - 6:11 am

There is no question the Red Sox were lacking power in their outfield, as going into Thursday the team was last in the American League with a .344 slugging percentage among outfielders and a major league-low 14 home runs. With the trade for righty-hitting Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes, this will change in a big way. The 28-year-old is hitting .256 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs this season after belting 23 and 26 home runs in his first two seasons in the majors, all while playing his home games in the pitcher-friendly confines of O.co Coliseum. He'€™s also won the All-Star Home Run Derby the past two seasons. The lack of outfield power was something that led the Red Sox to Cespedes. "We think he will thrive -- he is a guy we'€™ve gotten to know a bit when he signed and we had a chance to scout him ourselves in the Dominican before he signed," general manager Ben Cherington said. "We obviously followed him during his time in Oakland. He is someone who seems comfortable on the stage given his performances in different events and whatnot, the postseason. It'€™s a really powerful dynamic player in his prime that in our ballpark and in the outfield, we will probably take a look at him in right field and see how he looks out there. He obviously can play center and left, too, but we will take an opportunity to see how that looks. "He'€™s obviously a power bat who hits the ball out to all parts of the park and should benefit from Fenway. He'€™s going from a ballpark in Oakland that doesn'€™t help right-handed power hitters quite as much as Fenway does, so we'€™re excited to have him. He'€™s clearly someone we don'€™t have. As we were going through the options, finding someone we didn'€™t have was appealing to us." Not only is Cespedes' ability to hit for power attractive, but so are the other parts of his game. Defensively, he has one of the best arms in the game, as his 12 outfield assists ties him for the most in baseball with Jackie Bradley Jr. "When he first signed we were impressed with how quickly his transition was -- and that seems to be happening more often with Cuban players -- but he made a very quick transition," said Cherington. "He is just a guy that does a lot of things. He contributes on defense, on the bases, he throws really well, and of course there is the power and impact with the bat, which is something we have been lacking, as you guys know." Cespedes is under contract until the end of the 2015 season. It is in his contract that he is not arbitration-eligible and he cannot be presented a qualifying offer. Being one of the premier right-handed power hitters in the game, he certainly will be seeking a long-term, large-sum contract. Designated hitter David Ortiz will be 40 years old at the end of the 2015 season, and the Red Sox will need find a replacement for their long-time slugger. Cespedes could prove to be that guy. "I think we just have to get to know him a little bit more, he needs to get to know us, but this is a guy in the prime of his career who is a dynamic player who does a lot of different things well," Cherington said. "Certainly a type of guy we could envision wanting to have here longer, but let'€™s get him here and get to know each other first."