The first few offseason transactions are in the books. Jordan Zimmermann, one of the bigger names in free agency, is already off the market after agreeing to a 5 year deal with the Tigers. Both GMs in Chicago have made acquisitions and Bud Norris has a new gig in Atlanta (because why not sign the guy with the 6.72 ERA). But the biggest name off the market is David Price who just agreed to terms on a 7 year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox. Many great free agents still remain, and you can check them out in my other free agency article here, but one of the most intriguing names still on the list is the neon-sleeved, sweet-swinging Yoenis Cespedes.
If you don’t yet know the Yoenis Cespedes story, (which if you read my past free agency preview article, you would know all about him) he defected from Cuba in 2012 and signed with the Athletics. After two and a half seasons in Oakland, he was traded to Boston where he enjoyed his short lived Red Sox career. Cespedes was traded again, this time in the offseason, over to Detroit after just half a season with the BoSox. The Tigers’ first half struggles led to yet another Cespedes departure, this time out to the Big Apple. In his short time with the Mets, the city fell in love with him (or at least the non-Yankees half of the city) as he led New York all the way to the World Series where they lost a tough series to Kansas City.
Everywhere Yoenis Cespedes goes, he is adored by the fans — and he’s already been to his fair share of cities in his rather brief tenure in the MLB. Cespedes is known to be popular within the clubhouse, too (here’s proof).
A player that’s fun to watch and is a great presence in the dugout…what more can you ask for? (Don’t say a World Series win, Mets fans, he tried.)
Now you’re all caught up.
As for the teams pursuing Cespedes in free agency, there are a number of contenders. The Tigers have been linked with Cespedes, as well as the White Sox and Rangers. The push for Cespedes to return to the Mets has seemed to weaken in the past few weeks as little is surfacing about negotiations with New York. Unfortuantely for Mets fans, Cespedes now looks likely to head back to the AL and less likely to bring another deep postseason run to New York.
Pretty much any team would take Cespedes in their lineup. He led all qualified left fielders in WAR, homers, RBI, and slugging percentage last season. The Marlins have Christian Yelich, the Indians have Michael Brantley, the Yankees have Brett Gardner, the Pirates have Starling Marte and the Diamondbacks have David Peralta; those are the only few teams that have little to no need for signing Cespedes. The Rockies, Cardinals, and Cubs are also pretty deep in the outfield and have little need for Cespedes, that is unless they really want to break the bank and sign a star.
Every other team has interest in him, I would imagine.
The Tigers have been the front-runners for Cespedes since the offseason began and I still believe they are the most provocative option for Cespedes. He has already spent some time with the organization and is familiar with the front office. Plus, during his time in Detroit, he put up solid numbers. It wasn’t his fault the Tigers weren’t playing well. The Tigers are a team that is built to win now with veterans like Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, and Miguel Cabrera. They already have Justin Verlander and they just bolstered their rotation by signing Jordan Zimmermann. Although they struggled last season, adding a piece like Cespedes could be the key to a playoff berth for Detroit. It will be interesting to see how big of a spender Detroit is willing to be the rest of the offseason considering they already dished out $110 million to Zimmermann.
The Rangers are the most recent team to show serious interest in Cespedes. If he signed with Texas, he would be joining a team that made the playoffs last season (and nearly won the ALDS) and has a roster including the likes of Cole Hamels, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Beltre (also a healthy Yu Darvish coming in the Spring). Clearly Texas can’t rely on Josh Hamilton as an everyday starter anymore, so signing Cespedes could really benefit the Rangers.
Cespedes is a potential MVP candidate for the 2016 season. He is going to be 30 years old and at the peak of his playing career. He’s coming off of his most dominant season in the majors and his popularity has skyrocketed in the last few months. Cespedes has embraced the role of a superstar and whichever team he ends up with, he’s going to give a serious shot at a title run in 2016.
So many players re-signing with their team or signing gigantic free agent contracts over the last few years have had trouble in their next few seasons following the deal. Cespedes is a fun player to watch and I personally hope a big contract doesn’t result in a drop in production.
With the Winter Meetings beginning this weekend, free agency will be in full swing. The start of December also means Spring Training is one month closer. Soon the players’ checks will be written and the news conferences will be finished and the fans will have ordered all of their new jerseys with a fresh name on the back. Of course, signings are half the fun of baseball, so I won’t waste the whole offseason away waiting for them to take the field.