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Yoenis Cespedes Rumors
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.
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).