Tag:Yoenis Cespedes
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:34 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 4:54 pm
 

A's shock us with not-so-crazy Cespedes signing

Yes, it's a shock.

"Oakland?" one baseball executive repeated to me after I told him the A's were the team signing Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Yes, Oakland.

Yes, it's a shock. But that doesn't necessarily make it a crazy idea for the A's, and here's why:

When Cespedes' agents approached the A's recently after finding a softer-than-expected market elsewhere, the A's saw opportunity. They know that signing Cespedes for $36 million over four years is a risk -- an expensive risk for a team that doesn't have any other player signed for more than $6 million this year.

But they also know that the upside is great. The scouts who like Cespedes compare his combination of power and speed to Bo Jackson.

You just don't find players like that. The A's don't find them, anyway, not in their price range.

The A's know they're not going to win this year, and probably not next year, either. That's why they spent this winter trading Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey for young prospects.

But the plan has been to build a team that can win in 2014-15. If the A's are right about Cespedes, that's when he will be emerging as a true star.

As one A's person said Monday, "We're not trying to finish in last place."

They're trying to build a team in a challenging environment, one that won't get much less challenging until a new stadium is on the way. For now, the A's are operating with a low budget, but also with a difficult image.

When they've tried to spend, they haven't been able to. A year ago, they tried to sign both Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman. They chose the right players; the players didn't want to come.

They have to take chances, which is why they're one of the few teams willing to consider signing Manny Ramirez.

The A's were also one of the higher bidders on Aroldis Chapman, who until Monday held the record for most money given to a Cuban free agent.

"The problem is no one wants our money," the A's person said.

So when Cespedes' people approached them and said that the outfielder was interested in coming to the A's, the A's were willing to consider it. They were even willing to make a deal that will allow Cespedes to become a free agent again after four years (a condition that Cespedes demanded of every bidder, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press).

They weren't one of the many teams involved in the Cespedes bidding from the start, but the A's have liked the player since watching him several years back in the World Baseball Classic.

In the end, Cespedes got a better deal from the A's than the one the Marlins offered ($36 million over six years, according to sources). But Cespedes had also told officials from other teams that he preferred not to go to Miami, because of the potential circus playing in a city with a huge Cuban exile population.

That won't be an issue in Oakland, unless Cespedes turns into an instant star and leads the A's into contention this year.

Now that would really be a shock.


Category: MLB
Posted on: January 26, 2012 4:01 pm
 

What's next for Tigers? Maybe Cespedes


The Prince Fielder signing should push the Tigers' 2012 payroll up over $130 million.

Is there any money left?

Could be, but the Tigers are unlikely to spend it on a full-time designated hitter, or on a fifth-starter candidate who would require a guaranteed major-league contract.

They might, according to sources, still try to spend it on Yoenis Cespedes.

While the team has basically ruled out going after someone like Johnny Damon or Edwin Jackson, the Tigers remain interested in Cespedes, the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder who became a free agent Wednesday. The Tigers have been among the teams showing the most interest in Cespedes, and have had conversations about him with agent Adam Katz.

Cespedes, if he proves ready for the big leagues right away, could play left field, with Delmon Young moving to more of a full-time DH role. For now, the Tigers plan to have Young share left field and DH with Andy Dirks, Don Kelly and Clete Thomas, with Fielder and Miguel Cabrera also seeing a few days as DH.

The Tigers had worked hard to try to add another starter before turning their attention to Fielder late last week. They met Roy Oswalt's asking price, sources said, only to be told by Oswalt that he wouldn't agree to come to Detroit (even after a recruiting phone call from Justin Verlander).

The focus now is on veteran starters who would require less of a commitment, with the possibility that the Tigers don't add anyone before spring training begins. They could then audition Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly and others, and then search the trade market if they're not satisfied with what they see.

We've already seen that they're willing to be bold, and that the owner is willing to spend.

When Mike Ilitch told his baseball people that he was willing to make the huge commitment to Fielder, he explained it simply.

"I think the city needs it," Ilitch said. "I think we need it. I think our players need it."


Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:49 pm
 

Cespedes is a free agent, and bidding can begin

The bidding for Yoenis Cespedes can finally begin.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfielder has established residency in the Dominican Republic, and Major League Baseball told teams on Wednesday that he is now officially a free agent.

But where will he go, how much will he cost, and how fast could he make an impact?

First, the where: Cespedes himself told reporters in the Dominican that the Cubs have shown the most interest in him, with the Marlins, Tigers, White Sox and Orioles also involved. The Nationals have also shown interest in Cespedes, and the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies scouted him, although it's believed that none of the three will be among the top bidders.

The Marlins have made no secret of their interest, but according to sources, Cespedes has told other teams that he would prefer not to play in Miami. He plans to make his home in the Dominican, rather than in Florida, and may believe that the huge Cuban community in South Florida would add too much pressure and too many distractions.

The Tigers have long been interested, with general manager Dave Dombrowski making a surprising trip to the Dominican Republic to see Cespedes for himself. But Detroit's resources for signing Cespedes could be more limited after signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract.

How much will Cespedes cost? No one seems to know for sure, but many teams have been in contact with agent Adam Katz, and it seems clear that he'll get more than the $30 million that the Reds paid for Aroldis Chapman.

How fast does he make an impact? Several of the teams that have scouted Cespedes heavily believe that he would be best served by beginning 2012 in the minor leagues. Given his age and the amount of money he'll likely cost, there will be pressure to move him to the big leagues fast, however.

Cespedes is described by those who like him as a Bo Jackson type, with an unusual combination of speed and power.

Cespedes may not have helped his value by playing briefly and ineffectively in the Dominican winter league, but he may have had other motives for playing for Aguilas. It's believed that people involved with the team also have ties to the Dominican government, and that Cespedes' decision to play may have sped up the process of establishing residency.

In any case, that process is complete, and Cespedes is a free agent.

And the bidding can begin.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Yankees, Red Sox may not bid high on Cespedes

While the market for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is unpredictable, the word this week is that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox plan to be heavily involved.

The two baseball superpowers have both followed Cespedes carefully, and some in the Yankee front office want him badly. But the decision this week, according to sources, was that Cespedes is too raw a talent to justify the price, and may not be suited to playing in a big market, anyway. While the Yankees are not out on Cespedes, the plan as of now is to treat him the way they treated Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, making a modest bid that is unlikely to be successful.

The Red Sox are said to have similar concerns.

People familiar with the international market say that there is also a divide on Cespedes in the Marlins' front office, and that it's not a given that the team will go after him hard. Also, Cespedes has told people that he plans to make his permanent home in the Dominican Republic, rather than in Miami, and may prefer to go to a team other than the Marlins.

The interest in Cespedes remains strong, and the market could change by the time he becomes a free agent, which should happen in January. The Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, White Sox and Rays, among other teams, are still expected to pursue him.

Because of the strong interest, the belief is that Cespedes will still get as much as $40 million, even if the Yankees and Red Sox hold back from heavy bidding. One possible issue is that Cespedes' agents apparently want him to go straight to the major leagues, while many if not most scouts believe that he should spend time in the minor leagues first.

The Cubs, Nationals, Braves and Red Sox, among others, are also said to be interested in Jorge Soler, a 19-year-old Cuban who is also expected to become a free agent this winter. Soler is further from the big leagues, but talented enough that some predict it could take $15 million to sign him.

Because of new limits on bonuses that will go into effect next winter, teams may feel free to bid higher on Cespedes and/or Soler this winter.



Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:05 pm
 

So are the White Sox really rebuilding?

Kenny Williams said the White Sox were rebuilding.

He never said they were trying to lose.

He definitely never said that the White Sox were looking at a long-term rebuilding project.

The White Sox's decision to sign John Danks to a five-year, $65 million contract, after spending the first part of the winter trying to trade their left-handed starter, certainly caught people by surprise. But it may not be the complete about-face that it at first seemed to be.

First off, Danks is still just 26. Even when Williams was talking about rebuilding, he was primarily talking about getting younger. A 26-year-old lefty who has averaged 195 innings a year over the last four seasons fits in perfectly, once you're sure you won't lose him to free agency in another year.

Second, the White Sox knew they were never going to be able to trade high-priced players like Alex Rios, Adam Dunn or Jake Peavy, and almost certainly weren't going to trade Paul Konerko, either. It's not like they were ever going to slash their payroll down to nothing.

Third, the word in both the international scouting community and among White Sox people is that the Sox could be very involved in the bidding for 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who should become a free agent next month.

Fourth, the White Sox play in the American League Central. Yes, the Tigers look strong, the Royals are getting better and the Indians are trying harder, but this is not the toughest division in the game.

In fact, some White Sox people cringed when Williams began talking openly about "rebuilding."

"We are not rebuilding," one of them said forcefully.

Now, with Danks signed, some of those White Sox people were actually talking Thursday about what needs to happen for them to win in 2012.

Chris Sale needs to effectively take Mark Buehrle's spot in the rotation. Peavy needs to be better, a year further on from surgery.

Dunn and/or Rios need to bounce back.

Oh, and someone needs to take Sergio Santos' place as closer.

The Santos trade, to Toronto for pitching prospect Nestor Molina, is the only deal the Sox have made so far in their "rebuilding" winter. It fit the rebuilding mode, although it is worth remembering that while Santos has just two years in the big leagues, he is a year and a half older than Danks.

Perhaps the White Sox will still trade Gavin Floyd. It still wouldn't surprise anyone if they deal Carlos Quentin, especially with Dayan Viciedo waiting (and maybe Cespedes, too).

But a complete rebuilding?

No, that's the team on the other side of town.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:33 pm
 

From Yu to Yoenis

If not Yu, maybe Yoenis.

It's time to move from one international man of mystery to another. It's time to move from one player fans crave without really knowing much about him to another.

Yu Darvish is off the market, his rights awarded to the Rangers late Monday night for a cool $51.7 million.

Next up, Yoenis Cespedes.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfield (and YouTube) sensation isn't technically available yet. His agent told ESPNDeportes.com that Cespedes should be able to establish residency in the Dominican Republic this week. There's another step after that before he can become a free agent, but the expectation in baseball is that he'll officially go on the market sometime in January.

And the expectation in baseball is that the bidding for him could get crazy.

Unlike Darvish, the Japanese pitcher who had to go through the blind-bid posting system, Cespedes will be a true free agent, meaning that competing teams can bid up the price.

Rival teams say that the market is still hard to call, but some regard the Marlins as the early favorite. In the latest Cespedes video to hit the internet, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and owner Jeffrey Loria are featured prominently.

The video also shows Cespedes with Willie Horton of the Tigers, with Pat Gillick of the Phillies, with Theo Epstein of the Cubs and with Dave Magadan of the Red Sox. The Yankees are also expected to be involved, although their interest has been described as moderate.

Also, word in the international scouting community is that the White Sox watched Cespedes in a private workout recently. The White Sox have had recent success with Cuban players, having signed Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo.

There is also some talk that the Orioles will bid. There could be more. When Cespedes had an open workout last month, 150 scouts showed up.

An official of one team involved said that Cespedes' agents expect him to land a contract of between $25-45 million, but some in baseball have even speculated that the final price will be higher.

As with Darvish, there's no doubting Cespedes' natural ability. Many scouts have compared him to Bo Jackson, with a combination of speed and power that is rarely seen.

"He can beat out an infield hit to beat you, or he can come up the next time and hit it 500 feet to beat you," said one scout who has watched Cespedes. "He has a compact swing, with power. The swing plays, and the speed plays."

So what's the risk?

As with Darvish, Cespedes has never faced anything close to major-league competition day-in, day-out. No one knows how quickly he'll make the cultural adjustment.

Scouts from two teams said that they would feel more comfortable starting him off in the minor leagues first, to ease the adjustment.

As with Darvish, fans around baseball dream of Cespedes in their favorite team's uniform. On Twitter, I get more Cespedes questions than Prince Fielder questions.

With Darvish off the market, and with Cespedes about to enter it, let the madness begin.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:23 am
 

Latest on Jurrjens and Prado, and other notes

DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the first full day at the winter meetings:

-- The Braves' duo of Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado continue to be as sought after as any players on the slow-developing trade market. Sources say that 8-10 teams have shown real interest in Jurrjens, while "half the teams in baseball" have talked to the Braves about Prado, most with the idea of playing him at second base. The Braves continue to say that they don't need to move either player, and will only do so if the return helps make them more competitive in 2012 (as opposed to dealing for long-term prospects). The Braves have assured teams that Jurrjens is fully healthy, and that his velocity returned to the mid 90s when he resumed throwing in instructional league.

-- Royals executive J.J. Picollo became the latest to interview with the Astros for their vacant general manager position. The Astros' interest in Picollo and in the Rockies' Bill Geivett would seem to indicate that they want to hire someone with a strong background in scouting and player development. Picollo is Kansas City's assistant GM for scouting and player development, and he previously ran the Braves' minor-league system.

-- The Angels spent Monday night talking to Bob Garber, who represents free-agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Angels' interest in Wilson is serious, and has been since last month's general managers meetings in Milwaukee.

-- The Dodgers were considered to have a good day Monday, signing infielder Jerry Hairston and starter Aaron Harang to two-year deals. Rival executives suggest that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti needs to do whatever he can to try to give his chance a team to play well early in 2012, in hopes of convincing whoever the new owner is that he should keep his job.

-- The A's continue to explore trading closer Andrew Bailey, and are expected to talk to the Red Sox on Tuesday. The Red Sox have not yet been aggressive in pursuit of Bailey.

-- The Tigers are not believed to have shown any significant interest in any of the big names on the free-agent market, and seem content to make smaller improvements to a team that won 95 games in 2011. If the Tigers make a big-money signing this winter, it seems a lot more likely to be Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes than Mark Buehrle, Aramis Ramirez, Coco Crisp or other big names that have been speculated about. It's still not clear how soon Cespedes will be declared a free agent, because of delays in paperwork needed to establish residency in the Dominican Republic. One possibility is that Cespedes could try to establish residency in Mexico, instead.

-- While the White Sox are open to listening to trade proposals for any of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham, some club officials insist that they are not "rebuilding," even though general manager Ken Williams used that exact word last month. The Sox insist that they while they are trying to get younger, they would only trade their valuable chips if they get players who are ready to contribute at the big-league level immediately.

-- The Pirates continue to show no interest in trading center fielder Andrew McCutchen, even though early talks on a possible long-term contract showed that the two sides were "not even in the same ballpark," according to sources. McCutchen isn't eligible for free agency for another four years, so the Pirates aren't yet under time pressure to sign him or trade him.

-- The Giants have talked to the representatives for Tim Lincecum, but there doesn't appear to be much progress towards getting Lincecum signed to a long-term contract. Lincecum has two years to go before free agency.

-- A day after some Brewers people expressed a slight hint of optimism at their chances of retaining free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, others insisted the chances remain very bleak. The Brewers do have real interest in Aramis Ramirez, and have been in contact with every free-agent shortstop.

-- The Rays are open to trading Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis in their quest to improve their offense, but have told teams that they would only listen to overwhelming offers for James Shields. The Rays would also like to trade Reid Brignac, would still like to upgrade their catching, and are once again willing to talk about dealing B.J. Upton.



 
 
 
 
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