BOSTON — Yoenis Cespedes has been the run-producing machine the Red Sox bargained for back in July.
Cespedes, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, reached a milestone in Saturday?s 10-4 win over the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. The 28-year-old outfielder reached the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his Major League Baseball career, underscoring his potential impact on the Red Sox?s offense both now and in the future.
?He?s clearly got middle-of-the-order presence for us,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. ?I think the one thing we?ve been impressed with is the overall ability, the overall skills.
?There?s still work to be done (defensively) in this ballpark, particularly with the (left field) wall. But an RBI guy. He?s got a knack for it, he?s aggressive in the right spots and he?s got the ability to lengthen out the lineup with his presence behind David (Ortiz).?
Cespedes went 2-for-4 on Saturday, producing RBI singles in the first and second innings. His second knock, which plated Xander Bogaerts, resulted in his 100th RBI. Cespedes? previous career-high was 82 RBIs in his rookie season with the A’s in 2012.
Only 11 other players — eight other American Leaguers — have reached the 100-RBI mark this season. It?s a statistic Cespedes wasn?t following before Saturday, but he learned of his accomplishment after his second-inning single and took great pride in the feat following the win.
?It?s something very important for my career and it?s something very special to me, to be able to get it in my third year in the league,? Cespedes said through translator Adrian Lorenzo.
Only 33 of Cespedes? 100 RBIs have come with the Red Sox, but he?s produced that total in 50 games, meaning he?d likely breeze past the century mark with a full season in Boston. Cespedes? 33 RBIs lead the team since his July 31 arrival, and the impressive figure is largely a product of him hitting .350 (21-for-60) with runners in scoring position. In fact, 29 of Cespedes? RBIs have come in such situations.
Cespedes is hitting .355 (11-for-31) over the course of a seven-game hit streak, raising his average with the Red Sox to .274. It?s reasonable to think the Red Sox at some point will discuss a contract extension with Cespedes, who is set to become a free agent after the 2015 season, but the sides haven?t reached that point.
?I?m still not sure if I want to sign an extension or if I want to be a free agent,? Cespedes said. ?It?s too soon.?
Sure, it?s too soon. Cespedes hasn?t even been with the Red Sox a half season. We really can?t determine a winner in the Cespedes-Lester swap, either, as the former Red Sox ace?s future also hangs in the balance.
It?s not too soon to see that Cespedes possesses game-changing ability, though. And that?s something the Red Sox needed more of earlier this season.
Photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images