The Washington Nationals have made no secret of their goal to add an impact power bat to their lineup this offseason. GM Mike Rizzo is currently in the Dominican Republic scouting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, reports Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The Nationals believe Cespedes is big league ready and believe the right-handed-hitting slugger would fit nicely with Michael Morse and Jayson Werth in the middle of the lineup.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Nationals view Cespedes as an alternative to Prince Fielder and revisited talks with the Cuban outfielder after talks with Fielder slowed. However, Fielder is STILL the Nationals’ top offensive target and every effort is being made to sign the 27-year-old slugger. Cespedes is Plan B for the Nats.
Original Post 11/26
John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that Cuban sensation Yoennis Cespedes is scheduled to work out for the Detroit Tigers today. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already met with Cespedes’ representative Adam Katz last week during the GM Meetings. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has had a scout following Cespedes. The Red Sox, Cubs and Marlins have also been very engaged and are very interested in the powerful centerfielder.
Some of you may have already seen the well produced Yoennis Cespedes’ promotional video by now, but if you haven’t it’s definitely worth a look – although I warn you it’s 20 minutes long.
Since defecting from Cuba, Cespedes is still in the process of gaining residency in the Dominican Republic, and he is not yet eligible to become a free agent until all the paperwork is finalized. According to some reports, that could happen in the next two weeks.
There are some lingering concerns about his age which is listed as 26 years old, but as the new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington recently said, “while his age may be in question, his talent is not.”
In addition to his incredible power and hitting prowess, Cespedes is considered to be a strong defender in center field, his primary position, but he is open to playing one of the corner spots in the major leagues and has the 30+ home run power you would crave from a corner outfielder.
Here are his stats for the last four seasons:
- 07-08 – 366 AB – 82 R – 104 H – 26 HR – 50/32 K/BB – .284 AVG
- 08-09 – 328 AB – 83 R – 106 H – 24 HR – 40/43 K/BB – .323 AVG
- 09-10 – 342 AB – 87 R – 118 H – 22 HR – 50/42 K/BB – .345 AVG
- 10-11 – 354 AB – 89 R – 118 H – 33 HR – 40/49 K/BB – .333 AVG
Cespedes was by far the best offensive Cuban player before defecting. This past season he led the league in home runs, RBI and slugging. What really stands out is his incredible strikeout to walk ratio which shows how disciplined he is at the plate and would translate well and make things easier on his transition to the major leagues.
According to Peter Gammons, Cespedes reportedly expects contract offers somewhere in the range of what Aroldis Chapman signed last winter with the Reds – a six-year, $30.25 million deal.
I haven’t read anything concrete about the Mets’ interest in Cespedes aside from one report that they had a scout attend a workout in the D.R. where over 30 scouts were in attendance. There has not been any buzz from the Mets which I find odd for a front office that says they are fixated on building a new future with a new core of young players and have a $110 million dollar payroll.
You would think there would be more interest in a talent of this caliber when your options at center field are Angel Pagan and Mike Baxter. Is $5-6 million dollars annually too rich for the Mets taste? I did warn you not to put too much credence in that $110 million dollar payroll figure and to look for something closer to $90 million in 2012 and $80 million in 2013.
But getting back to this kid, from everything I’ve read and heard about Cespedes, whoever does get him will have themselves one heck of a ballplayer and a probable all star for years to come.