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Yoenis Cespedes Rumors
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.
The Marlins are exchanging contract figures with 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and two National League sources tell MLB.com's Joe Frisaro that the Cubs are no longer seriously in the mix. Chicago has apparently shifted its focus to 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, though he is not yet eligible for free agency.
Upon his recent visit to Miami, the Marlins made Cespedes an offer that was initially reported to exceed $40MM. That number has since been denied, and Frisaro confirms that the offer was under $40MM, saying the Fish are comfortable with a number in the $30-35MM range.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are willing to spend as much as $27.5MM to land Soler, though Frisaro's sources are unclear on the number of years they'd offer. New Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have already made one significant international splash this offseason, signing 18-year-old Cuban Gerardo Concepcion to a $7MM contract with another million dollars of incentives.
Here are a few items from around the Majors as we head into Sunday…
- The first priority for the new Dodgers owner should be to sign Clayton Kershaw to a long-term extension, says ESPN's Buster Olney in a video blog. Kershaw's recent two-year contract only covers his first two arbitration years, putting him on track for free agency (at age 26) after the 2014 season. "The entire landscape of baseball would be all over Kershaw as a free agent," says Olney, who believes the Dodgers should offer Kershaw something akin to a five-year, $100-120MM deal to lock him up.
- Arte Moreno expects the Angels to be "a highly competitive team" and discussed several other topics about the upcoming season with MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.
- As part of a piece about the risks of signing Yoenis Cespedes, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald explores how other heavily-hyped Cuban stars have been the victim of high expectations in the Major Leagues.
- Rays outfielder Matt Joyce has changed agents and is now represented by the ACES firm, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Joyce, a possible extension candidate, will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter and is under team control through 2015.
- Asdrubal Cabrera's arbitration-avoiding deal with the Indians prompted Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to examine the possibility of signing Cabrera to a multiyear deal. Last month, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at what a Cabrera extension could cost the Tribe.
- From that same piece, Hoynes says that the Indians' lack of guaranteed contracts past 2012 is probably not a sign that the Dolan family is "streamlining the franchise" as a prelude to a possible sale of the club.
- Four of top seven prospects in the Athletics' system came via the Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez trades, writes MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
3:00pm: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (via Twitter) hears that the Marlins offered Cespedes less than $40MM.
1:54pm: Yoenis Cespedes met with Marlins brass this week and returned to the Domincan Republic with an offer worth roughly $40MM over six years, a source close to the negotiations told Eric Reynoso of Cafe Fuerte. Cespedes, according to the source, still doesn't have any immediate plans to meet with other teams.
Prior to meeting with Cespedes, Marlins president David Samson hinted that the club would make an offer to the Cuban outfielder. The interest seems mutual as Cespedes told reporters that he would like to play in Miami.
Also within the piece, Reynoso writes that utility player and fellow Cuban Adonis Garcia became a free agent on Thursday. Agent Carlos Perez says that he has fielded interest from six teams, though the Marlins are not among them. The 26-year-old, who has shown the ability to hit for power, spent this winter with the Magellan Navigators of the Venezuelan League.
The Twittersphere is um, atwitter, with Jeremy Lin chatter right now, but you'll have to head over to Hoops Rumors for the latest on the Knicks' sudden superstar. Here are a few baseball-related odds and ends to share as the night winds down …
- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said on ESPN 1000 Radio today that while there's a lot to like about free agent Yoenis Cespedes, the outfielder doesn't come without some concerns. Guillen added that many teams are interested in Cespedes, implying that it's hardly a sure thing that the Cuban defector will sign with Miami.
- An arbitration expert told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Marlins "blew it" by allowing Anibal Sanchez to earn a $4.3MM raise through arbitration coming off a season in which he won eight games and posted a 3.67 ERA (Twitter link). Sanchez will earn $8MM in 2012.
- An arbitration expert also told Heyman that the Indians did well in settling with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera slightly above the midpoint of their exchanged figures, as the Tribe's original offer was low (via Twitter).
Mets GM Sandy Alderson joined Twitter with the handle @MetsGM today, opening with a joke about the team's financial situation. He told Newday's David Lennon (Twitter link) that he'll "probably keep doing it for a while … or at least until [I run] out of material." Here's the latest from baseball's two east divisions…
- The Yankees want Garrett Jones from the Pirates in any trade involving A.J. Burnett reports ESPN's Buster Olney, but Pittsburgh isn't interested in moving him and talks haven't progressed (Twitter links). Yesterday we learned that the Pirates are not on Burnett's no-trade list.
- Yoenis Cespedes met with the Marlins and toured their new ballpark on Wednesday, but he could head back to the Dominican Republic as soon as today according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Agent Adam Katz said "nothing is scheduled for now" when asked about meetings with other clubs.
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman said it was a "dream scenario" to make the upgrades they did without sacrificing depth during an interview with 620AM radio, says Marc Topkin of The Tampa Times (Twitter link). Tampa added free agents Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, and Jose Molina this offseason.
- The Orioles merged their pro and amateur scouting departments under new GM Dan Duquette, but the club will now have two more scouts covering the minor leagues according Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.
The Dodgers signed 26-year-old right-hander Hideo Nomo on this date 17 years ago. Armed with an exceptionally deceptive delivery, Nomo struck out 236 batters and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1995. Here are tonight's links, starting in L.A…
- Michael Heisley, a billionaire who owns the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA, is bidding on the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports. The 75-year-old led one of the 11 bids that made it through the first round of cuts, Shaikin writes.
- The Padres have the top farm system in baseball even though they don’t have a top-25 prospect, ESPN.com’s Keith Law writes. The Rays and Blue Jays round out Law’s top three and the White Sox rank 30th.
- Jonathan Papelbon, Prince Fielder and Heath Bell make appearances on Dave Cameron’s list of the ten worst offseason moves at FanGraphs.
- Free agent left-hander Horacio Ramirez will throw in front of scouts in Arizona tomorrow, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The 32-year-old appeared in 12 games for the Angels last year, spending most of the season with their Triple-A affiliate.
- Marlins officials met with Yoenis Cespedes in Miami today, showing him around the city and providing him with a tour of their new park, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes. Cespedes is currently blocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, though MLB has declared him a free agent.
Yoenis Cespedes is in the U.S. and plans to meet with the Marlins tomorrow. The latest on the Cuban outfielder, who may have a deal by the time Spring Training begins:
- Marlins president David Samson hinted to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that Miami might be ready to make its move. “I don’t know how tomorrow will go. But it would not surprise me if it ended with an offer,” Samson said (all Twitter links). Samson said the Marlins will go to lunch with Cespedes tomorrow and show him their new ballpark. The Marlins will "do something spectacular" for Cespedes, Samson said.
- Cespedes told reporters he'd like to play in Miami, Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald tweets. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro hears the Marlins are the frontrunner at this point (Twitter link).
- An American League source tells Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the Marlins are likely to sign Cespedes.
- Cespedes is arriving in Miami today to meet with Katz, tweets Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, and he's expected to meet with the Marlins tomorrow for a ballpark tour. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that executives from other teams may visit Cespedes later in Miami as well. The Orioles are planning a scouting trip to see Cespedes within seven to ten days, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
- As of Sunday, Cespedes still had not been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, even though he's a free agent and can negotiate with MLB teams. Katz explained, "I think we can come to terms with no execution of contract and no playing." Katz is "reasonably confident" Cespedes will be signed in time for camp this year.
- Cespedes awaits face-to-face meetings with his agents and interested teams, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. The goal is to have Cespedes in big league camp by the third week of February. Industry sources tell Levine bidding could reach $60MM over six years. In January, Cespedes named the Cubs as his most interested suitor.
Jason Varitek is facing a very difficult decision, and the catcher has been considering the very difficult reality of retirement, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Varitek, who turns 40 in April, would seem to be a good fit in Minnesota. The Twins will likely carry three catchers as Joe Mauer will need time to DH and rest and Ryan Doumit will mostly DH while also backing up Mauer.
Varitek isn't the only veteran wondering about his baseball future. Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Vladimir Guerrero also hope to continue playing in 2012. Here's more from Cafardo..
- There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal John Lannan to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, with the Halos putting Mike Trout in center field. The Nats beat Lannan in arbitration last week and were said to be aggressively shopping the left-hander.
- Alternatively, the Nats could move Jayson Werth to center and sign a right fielder. Cafardo adds that it now appears that Yoenis Cespedes is not in their plans and they have cooled on B.J. Upton.
- Javier Vazquez is retired for now, but Cafardo wonders if a team could convince him to play. An AL GM remarked that Vazquez would be a perfect fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and believes that the pitcher looks as good as he's ever been.
- Scott Boras is no longer representing Manny Ramirez. Ramirez signed on with Boras in early 2008 and the agent negotiated the slugger's two-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers the following year.
- Boras wound up receiving eight offers in total for Prince Fielder, including the winning bid from the Tigers.
- A couple of agents are frustrated after dealing with the Red Sox front office/ownership lately as compared to what they were used to in the past. However, there has been quite a bit of praise for GM Ben Cherington.
- Right-hander Brandon Webb hasn't given up on pitching and according to one American League executive, the plan is for the 32-year-old to throw for teams sometime in March.
- Mark Prior is also looking to attempt one more comeback. The right-hander, who spent some of last season with the Yankees, had surgery for a sports hernia and the problem isn't completely corrected. Like Webb, Prior could work out for teams as early as March.
- Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was supposed to be in Red Sox minor league camp but instead ripped up his elbow long-tossing over the winter. The veteran will unfortunately miss the season.
- Cafardo feels that the Red Sox missed an opportunity to sign Edwin Jackson to a good value deal at one year, $10MM and shouldn’t let Roy Oswalt slip away now.
- Not a huge surprise here, but Sabean said that the Giants won't go after Yoenis Cespedes, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "The price tag is probably beyond what his talent is," the GM said. The outfielder still has a number of suitors including the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, and Tigers.
- Sabean said that Ramon Ramirez was included in the Andres Torres-Angel Pagan trade in December to even out the money, Schulman tweets. Back in December, the GM admitted that if the Giants hadn't traded Ramirez, they would have tendered the right-hander a contract.
- Speaking of Torres, a competing baseball exec told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) that he sees the former Giant as a fifth outfielder, even though he is slated to start in center field for the Mets. Heyman agrees with that assertion.