Yoenis Cespedes Rumors

West Notes: Cruz, Cespedes, Dodgers, Padres

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.

Yoenis Cespedes Signing Reactions

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.

Athletics To Sign Yoenis Cespedes

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.

Marlins In Lead For Cespedes, Cubs Focused On Soler

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.

Quick Hits: Kershaw, Moreno, Cespedes, Joyce

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.

Marlins Make Offer To Yoenis Cespedes

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.

Quick Hits: Cespedes, Sanchez, Cabrera

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).

East Links: Yankees, Jones, Cespedes, Rays, O’s

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.

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Padres, Cespedes, Ramirez

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.

Latest On Yoenis Cespedes

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.