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Yoenis Cespedes Rumors
On this day in 1991, the Royals released leftfielder Bo Jackson after he suffered a serious hip injury in the NFL playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals. That was Jackson's final NFL game but the iconic athlete eventually returned to baseball in 1993 with the White Sox and played 75 games for the Angels in '94 before the players strike brought the season to an end. Here's a look at what's happening today..
- Angels outfielder Torii Hunter would "love to stay" with the Halos but understands that at age 37, and with Los Angeles having plenty of money on the books, this season may be his last, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The five-year, $90MM deal that Hunter signed prior to the 2008 season expires after this year.
- Free agent starter Javy Vazquez is not considering coming out of retirement, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- Free agent reliever Michael Wuertz will throw for teams on Thursday in Tempe, Arizona, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Twins are expected to be among the clubs in attendance.
- Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was willing to sign with the Cubs and had reason to believe that he might wind up in Chicago, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Ultimately, the Cubs offered six years for $36MM while the Athletics offered that same number for four years. The Cuban star also said that he was seeking either a four-year deal or one that was for eight years or more. Through a translator, Cespedes said that he probably would have wound up in Chicago had the Cubs offered him the same deal before the A's did.
- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton insists that he hasn't thought about retirement, writes Troy Renck of The Denver Post. The 38-year-old has two years remaining on his contract.
- More from Renck as he writes that Esmil Rogers is a trade candidate for the club. Rogers, Edgmer Escalona, and Josh Outman are battling for the final spot in the bullpen. Rogers is out of options and could be moved.
- Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully addressed the club's ownership situation prior to yesterday's broadcast and said that he doesn't believe it is having any effect on the players at all, writes J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News.
Here's the latest from baseball's two West divisions as some late night baseball is being played in Florida…
- The Diamondbacks added to their depth this offseason by signing Jason Kubel, and if they do trade an outfielder it won't necessarily be Gerardo Parra according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. They could decide to trade Chris Young, or prospects Adam Eaton or A.J. Pollock instead.
- All indications point to Yoenis Cespedes being on the Athletics' Opening Day roster, writes Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle. "Based on the contract, the sooner the better," said GM Billy Beane. "We're going to be open-minded."
- "It is an honor to learn from him, to watch him hit, to have him tell me these things," said Cespedes to reporters (including Bruce Jenkins of The San Francisco Chronicle) when asked about playing with Manny Ramirez. "That is very, very special." Manny intends to shadow the Cuban newcomer in Athletics camp.
- "For us dealing with free agency, we'd rather deal with it now rather than when a guy is a year away," said Padres GM Josh Byrnes to Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy of MLB Network Radio while talking about the Cameron Maybin extension. Byrnes said they also believe there is more offense on the way from their center fielder.
On this day in 2009, the Dodgers agreed to re-sign Manny Ramirez to a two-year, $45MM contract. Ramirez's time in Los Angeles came to an end in August of 2010 when he was claimed off of waivers by the White Sox. As a Dodger, the slugger hit .322/.433/.580 with 44 homers in 223 games. Here's a look at some items out of the AL and NL West..
- Yoenis Cespedes was warmly welcomed by Manny, writes Yahoo's Steve Henson. Ramirez discussed hitting extensively with his new friend, and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Cespedes says it's an "honor" to play with Ramirez. (Twitter link).
- There was a belief around baseball that Matt Cain was going to be an easy sign for the Giants, but that now seems less certain, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Word was that the hurler might even be prepared to sign back with the Giants for less than $100MM but that seems far less likely.
- If the league upholds Jairo Beras' contract with the Rangers, sources with several teams have said that they will be furious, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. MLB has granted some players leniency in the past if they willingly came forward with a new age or a new identity, but that does not appear to be the case in this situation.
- Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels says that multiple teams have inquired on David Murphy, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Even though Murphy is slated to come off of the bench, Daniels says that the outfielder is a huge part of the club. The Twins inquired on Murphy back in December but Texas was unwilling to compromise their outfield depth.
- Angel Villalona's name plate has been removed from his locker and that's a sign that his visa issue isn't close to being resolved, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. The Giants first baseman is facing legal trouble in his native Dominican Republic.
- The Athletics formally introduced Cespedes today and the outfielder said that Miguel Tejada told him that Oakland was a good organization to grow up in, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Links for Saturday afternoon..
- Yoenis Cespedes' deal with the Athletics is now official, according to the club's Twitter account. Cespedes' deal is for four years and is reportedly worth $36MM.
- In a corresponding move, the A's opened a spot for Cespedes on the 40-man roster by placing Scott Sizemore on the 60-day disabled list. Sizemore will miss the entire 2012 campaign after tearing his left ACL.
- Outfielders Rick Ankiel and Brett Carroll, who are both on minor league deals, are making a solid case to make the Nationals' major league squad, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
- Although people in the Nationals organization like Davey Johnson wanted him to return, Livan Hernandez says that he knew early on that his time was up in Washington, tweets Ladson.
- The Brewers renewed the contract of right-hander John Axford this afternoon and the two sides continue to talk about a multiyear deal, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
- Right-hander Kiko Calero is considering a procedure similar to what Bartolo Colon underwent as he weighs a comeback, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Both the Yankees and Red Sox are operating differently in 2012 thanks to the luxury tax threshold of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The new provision, Speier writes, creates the possibility for more payroll parity than the game has seen in years.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at the Red Sox's shortstop position after the trade of Marco Scutaro. Major league evaluators are skeptical that Mike Aviles and Nick Punto can get the job done, which could leave the door open to prospect Jose Iglesias getting the nod. All eyes will be on manager Bobby Valentine to see how he handles the club's shortstop situation this spring. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Two GMs told Cafardo that Jorge Soler will go for more than the five years and $15MM-$20MM most thought he would settle for. Some of the clubs who elected to stay away on Yoenis Cespedes because of the hefty price and question marks about his game have decided that Soler is a better value. The Red Sox are one of about eight teams in on Soler.
- Mike Gonzalez is likely headed to the Rangers if they can trade Koji Uehara. The A's have also been connected to the free agent reliever recently.
- The Yankees prefer Raul Ibanez to Johnny Damon because of cost. Damon is seeking about $5MM while Ibanez will likely be in the $1.5MM-$2MM range.
- Angels veteran Bobby Abreu would have gone back to the Yankees in an A.J. Burnett deal. The Halos have a logjam with Kendry Morales returning and Albert Pujols at first base and Abreu has been offered around.
- The Red Sox didn’t attend Scott Kazmir’s workout on Friday and have no plans to watch Brandon Webb throw when he is on display. That's because Boston decided not to delve into the rehab market for pitchers. The club has tried a number of pitchers coming back from serious injury and in most cases, it hasn't worked out.
- Cafardo wonders if Cardinals backup Tyler Greene is worth a look for the Red Sox shortstop mix. The 27-year-old was once a promising prospect and is out of options this year.
Here's the latest from South Beach…
- Once Albert Pujols was off the market, the Marlins told Gaby Sanchez and his agent that rumors about Miami pursuing Prince Fielder were false and that the club wasn't looking for another first baseman, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Sanchez said he wasn't offended that the Marlins were pursuing Pujols: "He's proven what he can do for 10 straight years. I still have so much time to go."
- Anibal Sanchez told reporters (including MLB.com's David Villavicencio) says the Marlins haven't approached him about a contract extension but he'd be open to signing such a deal. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently examined Sanchez as an extension candidate.
- Sanchez also didn't mind his recent arbitration hearing with the Marlins, where he won his case and earned an $8MM salary for 2012. "I think everybody thought they were going to say a lot of things that were bad about me. But I didn't think they said anything bad or that I didn't know. It's part of the business," Sanchez said.
- Jose Reyes understands that the Mets didn't have the finances to re-sign him, but he wished his former team would've at least made some kind of offer, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post.
- The Marlins offered Yoenis Cespedes a six-year, $36MM contract, reports Frisaro. The team wanted a six-year deal since they felt Cespedes would need minor league seasoning and didn't want to pay him a large salary if he'd be spending time in the minors. Cespedes instead agreed to sign with the A's for $36MM over four years.
- With Cespedes gone, Frisaro says the Fish aren't expected to add any more players before Spring Training, though they could look for veteran starting pitching later in camp. The Marlins aren't interested in Ivan Rodriguez for the backup catching job.
The A's made a splash Monday, signing Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36MM contract that allows him to reach free agency at its conclusion. The latest on the club:
- "The A's are likely to sign Manny Ramirez just before or soon after the start of spring training," writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Pitchers and catchers are due to report Saturday, while the full squad reports February 24th. Manny, of course, has a reputation of arriving late to spring training. Ramirez would serve as designated hitter for the A's, but he'd first need to serve a 50-game PED suspension.
- Despite the Cespedes signing, Coco Crisp still feels he's Oakland's best center field option. Crisp told Slusser, "Unless he's a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field." Crisp noted that a center field job was one of the reasons he chose the A's over the Rays, but concluded, "I'm excited to play alongside Cespedes – no matter what side that may be."
- Cespedes' no-arbitration clause is precedent-setting, writes ESPN's Buster Olney, as in the past only Japanese players have managed to secure free agency without the typical requirement of six years of Major League service.
- As I noted earlier today, the A's have four out of options players on the 40-man roster with fewer than five years of Major League service: Brandon Allen, Jerry Blevins, Joey Devine, and Kila Ka'aihue.
Passing along a few stray items out of the West divisions …
- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz's two-year, $16MM contract is backloaded, according to the Associated Press (h/t Boston Herald). Cruz will earn $5MM in 2012, along with a $500K signing bonus, and will earn $10.5MM in 2013. The right-handed hitter can also earn up to an additional $500K based on plate appearances.
- Yoenis Cespedes did not secure a no-trade clause in his contract with the Athletics, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, so the A's will have the option of trading off the outfielder if he becomes too expensive as he nears free agency after 2015.
- The remaining bidders for the Dodgers will meet with MLB's ownership committee early next month, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.
- The Padres will receive a rights fee of $30MM in 2012 for their new TV deal with FOXSports, a source tells Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The source adds that the Friars could earn as much as $40MM this year depending on a signing bonus and other factors.
The Athletics made an unexpected move today, agreeing to terms with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on a four-year, $36MM contract. The agreement allows him to hit free agency after the 2015 season and leaves suitors such as the Marlins and Cubs empty-handed. Here are some reactions to the deal…
- Cespedes told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that he's "super happy" and that his first goal is to make the team and stay healthy all season long.
- Agent Adam Katz told Kevin Kennedy and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio that four to seven teams were seriously interested.
- A's director of player personnel Billy Owens told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio that Oakland's scouts have watched Cespedes play for four or five years and consider him a center fielder.
- ESPN.com's Keith Law can imagine Cespedes hitting 30 home runs in the Major Leagues, but suggests he'll first need to spend some time in the upper minors.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports weighs in on the deal and explains why Cespedes remains an unknown, even though we've seen his skills on YouTube.
- One A's person told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that the club is "not trying to finish in last place" and explained that free agents are reluctant to take Oakland's money.
- Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus hears that Katz sought either an eight-to-ten-year deal or a four-year deal and suggests Cespedes' tools are as impressive as any player's.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan explains why the Cespedes deal makes more sense for the A's than it would have for the Rangers or Yankees.
- The Red Sox never made Cespedes a formal offer, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. Boston kept in touch with the outfielder over the course of the offseason, but the club wasn't prepared to match the $9MM annual salary he obtained from the A's.
- The Tigers were interested in Cespedes, but not at $36MM, GM Dave Dombrowski said, according to James Schmehl of MLive.com.
The Athletics continued their offseason stockpiling of young talent with the ultimate free agent addition, signing 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36MM contract that allows him to reach free agency at its conclusion. Yahoo's Tim Brown first reported the agreement, while Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle added financial details and the yearly breakdown. Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group represents Cespedes.
The A's have been aggressive on international talent in past years, though CBS Sports' Danny Knobler suggests they were a late entrant on Cespedes. The A's made a big bid for lefty Aroldis Chapman two years ago, and have now topped Chapman's record contract for a Cuban player. More significantly, the A's gave Cespedes $36MM over four years, as opposed to the six-year term preferred by the Marlins and other suitors. He'll reach the open market once again as a 30-year-old. Cespedes may benefit from some minor league seasoning, but ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that he'll get a shot right away to become Oakland's everyday right fielder.
Given his age, perhaps Cespedes should not be compared to top MLB prospects. Still, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein would rank him 20th in baseball and Baseball America's Jim Callis would put him in the 7-15 range. Cespedes is a premium athlete with huge raw power, plenty of speed, and a strong arm. His hit tool and defensive value are more of a question.
The A's added top prospects such as Jarrod Parker, A.J. Cole, Derek Norris, and Brad Peacock this winter by trading Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, while Andrew Bailey brought the A's Josh Reddick and others. With his entire outfield up for free agency, A's GM Billy Beane allowed David DeJesus and Josh Willingham to leave, re-signed Coco Crisp, signed Cespedes and Jonny Gomes, and acquired Reddick, Collin Cowgill, and Seth Smith. Despite his lack of MLB and minor league experience, Cespedes is Oakland's highest-paid player, topping Crisp in 2012 by $500K. The window to add premium young international talent by spending eight digits on a player is closing quickly, as the new collective bargaining agreement calls for a $2.9MM per team cap beginning with the July 2012 signing period.
Though MLB executives have been following Cespedes' play for the Cuban national team for years, the general public was introduced to him with a Star Wars-like scroll and the Christopher Cross light rock tune "Sailing," which appear within the first three minutes of this ridiculous promotional video. Cespedes defected from the Cuban team in July of last year, establishing residency in the Dominican Republic and then becoming an MLB free agent. He was recently unblocked by The Office of Foreign Asset Control according to Brown (on Twitter). Goldstein tweets Cespedes is expected to arrive in Phoenix for a physical in one to two weeks, and he's already cleared his age and identity investigation and has been drug tested.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.