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Yoenis Cespedes Rumors
Current Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein covered a range of subjects in a fascinating interview on WEEI's Hot Stove Show on Thursday (audio link; transcript). In addition to discussing the two clubs he has headed from a baseball ops perspective, Epstein emphasized the impact of changes to the CBA. The new system has both reduced teams' abilities to reap draft picks from outgoing free agents, Epstein said, and made it difficult to pay for hard-to-sign talent in later draft rounds. Here's more from around the league, including other notable talking points from Epstein:
- Discussing his current club's reported pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, Epstein noted that the pitcher likely cost the Yankees more in real terms than the team's $175MM contract and release fee commitment, once the collective bargaining tax is accounted for. The signing, said Epstein, "reflects the dynamic that there are many, many teams with lots and lots of dollars to spend and very few places to spend them, very few players who represent sound investments for the dollars."
- "There are lots of teams demanding talented, prime-age players, and supply is really a trickle," Epstein continued. "Fewer and fewer players of that ilk are reaching free agency. … You're going to see these prices that cause people to shake heads. … Because of the TV deals, the teams that have them have a lot of money and not a lot of attractive players to spend the money on." Indeed, as I explored earlier tonight, some teams' desires to use free cash to enhance the value of their player assets (i.e., control and contract rights) could result in increasingly robust contracts for some younger players that remain years away from free agency.
- One player that seems suitable for an attractive, long-term investment is Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics. Fresh on the heels of today's extension of teammate Coco Crisp, Cespedes said that he, too, hopes to ink a new pact, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 28-year-old slugger, who still has two years remaining on the deal he signed out of Cuba, said that he hopes to play for the A's for his entire career. Of course, given his relative youth, upside, and high profile, Cespedes figures to command a much higher price than the $22.75MM over two years just given to Crisp. It remains to be seen whether the A's will be willing to dangle a sufficient guarantee to get a deal done.
- Turning back to the aforementioned Tanaka, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio today (via ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand) that the club views its new acquisition as "a really solid, consistent number three starter." Cashman noted that, though the club scouted Tanaka extensively, uncertainty remains as to how he will transition to the big leagues. "If we get more than that," Cashman said, "all the better. He's got a great deal of ability."
- Two arbitration hearings took place today, after none occurred last year. Andrew Cashner of the Padres and Vinnie Pestano of the Indians both made their cases to their respective panels. Cashner and the Padres are quite close in filing numbers ($2.4MM against $2.275MM), while Pestano ($1.45MM) and the Indians ($975K) left a larger absolute and relative sum to chance.
- Glancing in at MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, 16 cases remain unsettled as hearings begin to take place. By my count, just over $23MM remains at stake between the player filings ($79.325MM total) and team counters ($56.15MM). Only the Indians, with Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, and Josh Tomlin (in addition to Pestano), have more than one outstanding arbitration case.
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring … He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy — he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
SATURDAY: For his part, Cespedes says that he has no intentions of leaving his agent, Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group. As the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reports, Cespedes says he is "very happy with Adam and with the work he's done for me."
THURSDAY: "We're not inflicted with that disease," Jay-Z said in reference to other agents' belief in doing only one thing, speaking yesterday on The Breakfast Club Power 105.1 (hat tip to Forbes contributor Darren Heitner). "It's insane to even say that, 'What does he know about sports?' Uh, everything. More than you," he added. In regard to other agents, he said, "They've been sitting around for 20-30 years just not doing anything, so me coming, that's a problem for them. Now they have to go to work, now they have to wake up." The agency talk begins around the 10:20 mark in this video.
WEDNESDAY: Jay-Z made waves earlier this year when he entered the sports representation world with his Roc Nation Sports venture and lured Robinson Cano away from Scott Boras (whom he dissed in song). Now, the company is wooing Dodgers star Yasiel Puig and also has an eye on Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
When the Yankees hosted the Dodgers in mid-June, Puig was invited to a party at a club owned by Jay-Z after a Dodgers teammate passed along the rapper's contact information, one source said, and Puig left the meeting intrigued. Puig has also talked with at least one other marketing agency in New York, but the prospect of joining Roc Nation remains a possibility.
Jay-Z is also known to be interested in signing A's outfielder Cespedes, who will be in New York for the Home Run Derby. Puig could be in town as well if he wins the Final Vote for the last slot on the National League All-Star team.
As the MLBTR Agency Database shows, Puig is currently represented by Jamie Torres and Cespedes is with Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group. Puig is in the early portion of the seven-year, $42MM deal he signed in June 2012. Meanwhile, Cespedes' four-year, $36MM deal will take him through the 2015 season.
Jay-Z burst onto the agent scene in April, taking Cano from Boras as the Yankees' second baseman heads toward a nine-figure contract. As Passan notes, Jay-Z rapped on the recently-released song "Crown," "Scott Boras, you over, baby. Robinson Cano, you coming with me." Talking to Yahoo's Tim Brown on July 3rd, Boras didn't respond directly to the shot, but hammered home, "All I can offer the player is, all my time will be spent only on baseball."
The Athletics held their A's Fan Fest today with manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane hosting a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:
- Melvin says second base will be an open competition between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks while Grant Green, the A's fourth-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, will also receive a hard look, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (Twitter links).
- Melvin plans to continue with the Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon at first base, tweets Lee.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets the A's will not use any one set lineup because Melvin has multiple options depending on matchups and who's hot.
- Melvin views Coco Crisp as the starting center fielder with Chris Young moving around all three outfield spots, Lee tweets.
- Young says being reunited with Melvin is "like a breath of fresh air." (A's team Twitter feed).
- Melvin calls Yoenis Cespedes one of most talented players in the league and Beane adds he wouldn't be surprised if the 27-year-old Cuban takes it to another level, Slusser tweets.
- Beane is confident Hiroyuki Nakajima will make a successful transition to MLB, tweets Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com. In fact, Beane joked he will have a tougher transition in dealing with the effervescent Japanese shortstop.
- Beane expects their top prospect, outfielder Michael Choice, to open the season in Triple-A, unless something unforeseen happens, according to Pratt (via Twitter).
- The A's are convinced shortstop Addison Russell, last year's first round draft choice, is mature enough to be invited to Spring Training even though it wasn't part of his contract, writes Slusser on Twitter. Slusser adds this is an indication of how much the 19-year-old has wowed the front office.
On this day in baseball history in 1941, Joe DiMaggio won his second American League MVP award. The runner-up was Ted Williams, who had batted .406 on the season and lost the award thanks to a writer who left him off the ballot. Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league…
- The American League, more specifically the AL West, served as home this season to a talented crop of rookies beyond just Mike Trout, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Hagen points to Yoenis Cespedes, Jesus Montero and Yu Darvish as players who have strong cases that would easily win AL Rookie of the Year any other year, but Trout's not only a finalist for being the top rookie as he looks to take home league MVP as well.
- While the Nationals failed to collect the hardware that comes with winning the World Series, the team's manager, top rookie and ace look to make up for it this week as the BBWAA award winners are announced, says Amanda Comak of The Washington Times. Strangely enough, Washington manager Davey Johnson was fired the same day he last won a Manager of the Year award thanks to a contract dispute with the Orioles back in 1997.
- Count the Indians among the teams interested in pursuing Jason Bay's services, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Beyond Bay, Hoynes suggests the team could be in play for Melky Cabrera as the pressure-free environment in Cleveland could help him rebound next season.
- Bobby Valentine's future may not take shape in a dugout, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com believes the veteran manager would be an asset to Major League Baseball by working for commissioner Bud Selig.
As the Tigers prepare to face the A's in the deciding game of their ALDS series, here's the latest from the AL Central…
- The Tigers "had a de facto deal" with Yoenis Cespedes last winter, reports Peter Gammons for MLB.com, before the Tigers instead chose to sign Prince Fielder. Cespedes, of course, signed with the A's instead and now could play a role in the end of Detroit's season.
- Brennan Boesch wasn't on the Tigers' playoff roster and his "days likely are numbered in Detroit," writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press. Boesch hit a disappointing .240/.286/.372 last season and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so the Tigers might not tender him a contract. Sharp hints that Rick Porcello could also be non-tendered (Porcello is arb-eligible for the second time), though with so many pitching-needy teams in baseball, the Tigers might be better served by dealing Porcello than cutting him outright.
- The reported out clause in Terry Francona's Indians contract that allows the manager to leave if GM Chris Antonetti or president Mark Shapiro are fired is not a big deal, opines Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Shapiro and Antonetti owe their futures with the Tribe to Francona" already, Pluto argues, so if the team continues to struggle, a total change in front office and field management is the logical next step.
- The Indians are much more likely to pursue upgrades through the trade market than through free agency, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- “It’s better for me and my family (to stay with the Royals)," Joakim Soria tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. "My wife is pregnant. I’m just focusing on my rehab. The most important thing is for me to get healthy. After that, everything else will come together." Dutton says that Royals team officials "privately acknowledge" that Soria's $8MM option for 2013 will be bought out within three days of the World Series ending, though both sides are interested in reaching a new contract.
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.