Who is Yoenis Cespedes?
The baseball world found out a few weeks back, when the training video to end all training videos was released by the Yoenis Cespedes camp. Yoenis is (reportedly) a five-tool outfielder, 26 years old, and recent defector of Cuba – the alternate dimension of professional baseball. Aside from proving to the world that he’s in amazing physical condition, the teaser video released in November showed something we rarely see in baseball: complete talent. He hits line drives. He has substantial power. With plus speed and a legitimate throwing arm from the outfield, Yoenis Cespedes will be a hot commodity once he has officially established residence and nationality in the Domincan Republic. At his ceiling, I would project him as a Ron Gant career-year-type. In his prime, a great player, but not a hall of famer. His basement? Imagine Jose Guillen. In his Kansas City days. Not terrible, but certainly not an all-star. If I had to choose between the two, I wouldn’t. I see him adjusting well to the ‘Bigs – but imagine something much, much closer to Gant.
That being said, he’s coming. He will be on a major league roster come Spring Training, and with the recent signings of Yu Darvish and the only big namer left in Prince Fielder, the market for Cespedes is coming hard and fast. Here, we break down some potential suitors for Yoennis, but won’t bother getting into financials until the end.
The Yankees currently show off an outfield of Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. Granderson and Gardner look as if they’re in New York for a long stay, filling the Yankees speed/power #1 and #9 niches in the lineup. Swisher, well, Swisher has been hard to watch for the past two years. His swings keep getting harder and farther from pitches. Why not throw some money at Cespedes? Yankees have the cash to spend. The addition of Cespedes, likely a #6 hitter for this team (which would be disgusting) and a legitimate starting pitcher turns the Yankees from a 95 to a possibly 100 win team. Also, NYY has had considerable luck with Cubano defectors in the past; unlike their Japanese lemon importing business.
The Red Sox have a need. While Josh Reddick may be ready for the every day right field job, the big stinking question mark of whatever the hell happened to Carl Crawford remains. Red Sox crying poor? Why anyone would ever believe this, I’ll never know. Red Sox have the cash and will eventually have the hole to fill. The addition of Cespedes may turn one of the best offenses in baseball to an even better one…but still won’t reach that of the Rangers.
While the Jays have plenty of up-and-coming talent, they’re not yet in position to challenge the AL East. Adding Cespedes as the centre fielder may turn the team slightly closer in this direction. With Bautista and Rasmus in right and centre, I’d look for Cespedes to move Rasmus to left, and take over center field, fitting into the lineup behind Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth spot. Alex Anthopoulos has shown interest in defectors in the past, rumoured as finishing second in the Aroldis Champan sweeps of last winter (two winters ago?) and the recent ~$1.7 Million outbid by Texas may have lit the fire under his and Roger’s collective asses.
Let’s be honest. The Rangers are an amazing team right now, and Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and company still aren’t happy with this team. Adding Cespedes to this lineup would just be diabolical, and in addition to their bullpen and starting rotation? Unreal. Here’s how you lose out on Prince Fielder and still win. Mitch Moreland will be fine at first base – but an outfield of Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and…. Craig Gentry? No thanks. This is Texas’ opportunity to build the dynasty with Cespedes. Make it happen, Texas, and enjoy another trip the the World Series.
It’s not likely, but we have to consider the Cubs a bit in regards to Cespedes. With the signings of Reed Johnson and David DeJesus to go with Marlon Byrd (CF) and LOLfonso Soriano in LF, the Cubs outfield is crowded, but in no way a formidable one. Get Soriano out of Chicago, please. Send him to a small market so I never have to watch him again. Bring in Cespedes, and build around a strong core of him, Castro, Stewart, Lahair (Or Fielder?) and Soto. The Cubs are awful right now, but Epstein and Hoyer will turn this team around, and adding Cespedes could expedite the process.
I had to add the Chicago White Sox into the conversation, yet I am reluctant. Why? Kenny Williams has shown complete ineptitude in the Chicago front office, but as MLBTradeRumors states, the team has had success with defectors Alexi Ramirez and Dayan Viceido, Cespedes might be next and could provide the centerpiece for rebuilding the Pale Hosers.
While Washington’s interest right now is focused on Gio Gonzalez and nearly dismantling their farm system, Cespedes may be an option. Nationals fans have been crying out all offseason for Mike Rizzo to make SOME sort of deal, and this one could be the one that would actually be better for the team than adding Gio Gonzalez. With Michael Morse at 1B where he belongs, adding Cespedes to an outfield of Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth could rocket the Nationals into contention.
Florida is in every rumour you hear this offseason, and the pursuit of Cespedes is likely to heat up with the Marlins as a front-runner. Signing Cespedes would have to be complimented with another move, as he won’t displace Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton, thus the departure of Chris Coghlan would be necessary. Along with the incredibly strong Cubano population in Miami, this may be a better fit than most.
The thing is, it’s going to cost someone lots of bills to sign Cespedes. Outfielders are rare in this year’s free agent market, especially 26-years olds in their prime who can benchpress 400 pounds and two other grown Cuban men.
And of course, the Obligatory Yoenis Cespedes Training Video: