This article is courtesy of our friends at Chicago Baseball Report
With as many as six MLB teams reportedly interested in Cuban slugging star Yoenis
Cespedes, the 26-year-old outfielder was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball
Cespedes has been hyped all offseason as the next big thing in baseball. The outfielder has
recently defected from Cuba, and holds the single-season home run record for his former
country’s major baseball league. While playing in the Dominican Repbulic winter league this
past month, Cespedes has struggled somewhat, striking out ten times in 35 at-bats, with
only one home run.
Cespedes had himself claimed last week that among the six teams interested in signing
him, the Chicago Cubs were the most interested. He claimed that officials from the Cubs
had dined with him on more than one occasion.
A natural fit for Cespedes would be the Miami Marlins. The Marlins have been one of the
most active teams this offseason, signing free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and
Heath Bell, along with hiring a new manager, former White Sox skipper, Ozzie Guillen. With
their increased payroll and new stadium set to open this season, the Marlins might want to
make yet another splash this winter by getting Cespedes. While Miami has struggled to
gain a steady following since joining the league in 1993, a big city with a huge Cuban-born
population would seem to be a smart fit for Cespedes and the Marlins.
“We’re going to try as hard as we can (to sign him),” said team president David Samson
during a recent radio interview.
While Cespedes is apparently a five-tool player, he could give the Marlins great value for the
next few seasons, even at a relatively hefty price tag. Some reports have had a potential
contract totalling $50 million for the Cuban star, despite the fact that he hasn’t had one at-
bat in the major leagues. Cespedes has seen MLB pitching, as he participated in the 2009
World Baseball Classic.
Other teams reportedly interested in Cespedes besides the Cubs and Marlins, are the
Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.
With the big free agents now off the table this winter, following the Detroit Tigers’ massive
contract given to Prince Fielder on Tuesday, Cespedes is the last big name remaining on
the radar of MLB teams looking to improve their outfield. While Cespedes may be more
hype than substance at this point, the prospect of getting a great player at a relative bargain
has piqued the interest of several teams and their fanbases.
With the announcement this week that Cespedes is now a free agent, the rumors will only
intensify, and there could be a surprise team joining the fold, just as the Tigers unexpectedly
signed Fielder after he had been linked to several other MLB teams. Regardless of who
signs Cespedes, his first appearance in an official game will undoubtedly be a much-hyped
and watched event, which will benefit the game, as well as whichever team takes a chance
on the unproven slugger.