10:57pm: The Tigers are among the teams still at least considering Cespedes, Jon Heyman reports (all Twitter links). While GM Al Avila said during the Winter Meetings that his team was “out” on Cespedes, that was six weeks ago and things could have changed with the outfielder still on the market in mid-January. Indeed, later reports suggested that Detroit was still monitoring Cespedes if his price dropped. Heyman notes that the Tigers may be thinking about adding a big bat since they seriously thought about signing Davis; some front office members even wanted to make the move, though “future luxury-tax concerns” scuttled the signing.
12:36pm: With plenty of interest in and activity on Cespedes, there’s “no chance” he will be forced to take a “very short deal,” Jon Heyman tweets.
10:58am: The market for free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is “intensifying,” according to ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Twitter link). It seems possible that a deal could come together within “the next few days,” he adds.
With yesterday’s reported agreement between Chris Davis and the Orioles, it seems plausible to expect greater clarity in Cespedes’s own market. Baltimore had emerged as one of the most widely-reported suitors for the Cuban veteran, but the addition of Davis likely takes them out of the market for further major power bats.
Cespedes is said to be seeking something nearing or even exceeding the overall value that Davis received from the O’s. But it remains unclear as yet where that level of cash will come from. Baltimore was reportedly interested at around $90MM over five years.
While we have only heard about clear interest from a few teams to date, Bowden says that as many as ten organizations are still in “active contact” with Cespedes’s reps. While at least some are surely offering a soft landing rather than pursuing a bidding war, that’s still encouraging at this stage of the winter.
From public reports to date, the Mets and White Sox are apparently not willing to go past three years. The Braves reportedly have interest, too, but it’s hard to imagine that Atlanta would go anywhere near the Davis contract. Other teams that make good hypothetical fits, such as the Tigers and Angels, have not been tied strongly to Cespedes.
In considering the possibilities, though, it’s worth noting that virtually all of the league’s teams could stand to improve by adding Cespedes. While that’s hardly the end of the analysis, there should be ample motivation to explore the possibilities. Young players can be held in the upper minors; trades can be made; and position changes can be implemented. It’s true, too, that there are some trade candidates still out there that effect things as well, but there’s no getting around the fact that Cespedes had a monster season last year, is a great athlete with all-around abilities, and isn’t even all that old.