Are the Cubs the "leaders" on Cespedes? can't really say "leaders" because, after speculation yesterday, it has now just been confirmed that Yoenis Cespedes is a free agent.  There have been no negotiations to this point.

But there have been meetings.  And apparently lots of them.

Cespedes has mentioned on a couple of occasions on how the Cubs have shown the most interest him and how they have had dinner with him and his agent.  Of course, they can't talk contract, but establishing that early interest and building a relationship is often a key to signing free agents.  The player develops a trust and appreciation for the organization.

How many times have we heard a free agent say, "They showed interest in me from the beginning..."  

The more recent development was a series of tweets from CBS' Danny Knobler,

Teams are waiting for the OK to start bidding on Cespedes.  There's still a feeling that Cespedes doesn't want to go to the Marlins.

And then this one,

He has told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami.  If so, he has an interesting decision to make if the Marlins bid big.

All along I have speculated, incorrectly it seems, that Cespedes would prefer Miami because of the Cuban community, the marketing opportunities, the weather, the tax structure, etc.

But maybe some of that is stuff he'd actually like to avoid.  Perhaps he doesn't want to be the face of the franchise without having taken a single AB in the MLB.  Maybe there are too many distractions and he prefers to concentrate on baseball.

If that's the case, then it speaks a lot to his character and his focus on becoming a great major league ballplayer over marketing opportunities.

One interesting thing Knobler writes about is that Cespedes prefers to live in the Dominican Republic rahter than Florida regardless of where he plays.  So the geography becomes less of an advantage in that sense.  It may even give the Cubs a leg up, as the Cubs now have first rate facilities in the Dominican. Cespedes can spend the offseason working on his game.  Is it possible the Cubs even have a home field advantage of sorts here?

Cespedes, projects to be an Adam Jones type player per one projection, but he'll need a bit of time in AAA.  While Cuban baseball isn't at the level of MLB or even the NPB, it's still high level competition.  A recent player who made the transition easily is Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox.  Ramirez was a lesser prospect, yet made the jump at 26 despite not having faced MLB pitching.  He hit .290 with 21 HRs in his rookie season.

The Cubs will take those kinds of numbers in a heartbeat in his first season.  Cespedes ultimately is expected to provide athleticism, defense, power, and speed to the Cubs, all areas in which Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aim to improve on.

And if you think a potential Cespedes signing means no Jorge Soler, think again.  Bruce Levine said in his chat that the Cubs have the money set aside to sign both.


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    Maybe he and his people are smart enough to look at the circus that is Miami and think that, long-term, this isn't the best place to maximize his talent, while the Cubs seem to be on a strong track to feature their young players, so Cespedes actually has a better chance to be a "face" type player on an up-and-coming team in a few years.

    All speculation, but I'd be glad to see the Cubs jump in and grab this guy.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Cubs seem much more devoted to development right now while Marlins are in win-now/spend now mode. Cespedes may have a much better chance to succeed with the Cubs. Doesn't hurt that the Cubs have those first rate facilities in the Dominican Republic, where Cespedes says he prefers to spend the offseason.

  • In a weird sort of way it might be easier to get Cespedes than Soler...more money, but fewer suitors. Love to get both though, Everything I've ready say they are the type of athletic players the new front office likes. Cespedes is a little scary to me, but I'd still like to see the Cubs make a serious run at him.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    I think that's a good point. There are more teams seemingly in on Soler, including heavy hitters like the Yankees and Nationals. Maybe Cespedes is the more likely signing.

    Honestly, he's a little scary to me too, but they probably need to hit it big on a couple of gambles to get better quickly.

  • Being managed by Ozzie would scare me

  • In reply to emartinezjr: think so? I think he'd be fun to play for. My first little league manager still scares me. Taught me how to play the right way, though.

  • Aw, see, now you got me all excited!

    Any update on Soler's or Concepcion's free agency? I'd assume they'd be around the same time, no?

  • In reply to mosconml:

    Concepcion is reportedly already a free agent. Soler is the last one. Prefer that Cespedes and Soler are spread out so Cubs have chance to negotiate with both.

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    I would much rather get Soler, but I'm definitely not opposed to getting Cespedes, especially if they can get him on a good contract. If he really doesn't want to play for Miami then maybe the Cubs can get him for a little less even if the Marlins bid big. I like the thought that he might want to focus more on baseball than being the face of a franchise. He is a really risky signing, but I think it is worth it. I know a lot of people are projecting him to get 30-60 million and up to 6 years. Honestly, because there is a risk, I would rather give him a shorter contract even if it means spending a little more. I would hate for him to be a bust and then have him be the next Soriano. John, if you were Theo/Jed what kind of contract would you give Cespedes?I'm hopeful that signing him means the Cubs will also go after Soler. Let Soler grow in the minors behind Cespedes.

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    The Cubs AAA line up could be better than the Major League one on opening day.

  • In reply to DGP10:

    Haha! You could be write: Lineup could feature Castillo at C, Rizzo at 1B, Vitters at 3B, and an OF of Sappelt, Jackson, and Cespedes. Wow. Not just good players, but all are good prospects, and 3 of them are top 50 guys.

  • "El Ciempies" age concerns me. Whether it his real age or he's misremembered his actual birth date.

  • I think if there's any doubt, the Cubs won't sign him. I have to think that's been thoroughly researched. Doesn't mean it can't happen, but I think the odds are less than they have been over the years.

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    I'll be honest, as a fellow Cuban I've always been excited about the hype around Yoenis (and the Cubs) but have tried to keep myself from getting too excited as I have seen so many hyped international players not pan out at all. I will say the most amazing thing that I saw (and the reason I want him more than any of the other Cubans, though I'd obviously take them all) from him was deciding to play in the Dominican League Playoffs. Being a diehard Chicago fan I'm very accustomed to have top picks in sports drafts. When players are top prospects they NEVER participate in live action to compromise their draft and contract opportunities. Sure a few will participate in the NFL combine and throw some balls or run the 40 but they never do the Senior Bowl. In the NBA draft the top picks NEVER participate in the pre draft camps with live play against other prospects. This to me was the biggest example of character from a player who would obviously be at a disadvantage having not played in so long and going against teams playing in their playoffs. True competitor. And furthermore I wouldn't have assumed that Yoenis would want to avoid Miami but at the same time I totally understand why he would. Aside from the reasons listed there are also the issues of the guy about to come into a major pay day and there could be outside (friends/family?) pressure to start spreading that money around to help others. I think going to a Franchise where all those distractions are minimized would be undoubtedly beneficial. Yeah. So that's my 2 cents. Or more like 2 dollars. Sorry. Kind of wrote a lot there.

  • In reply to the DCHAV:

    Thanks for the great thoughts, DCHAV. Some really good points about some of the distractions.

    Agree too about what a bold move it was for him to play in the LIDO playoffs. He didn't have to do it, his stock was high. The guy just wanted to play ball. I get the feeling he's just a ballplayer.

  • I know I have said this before, but I am getting really excited about the talent the Cubs are starting to put together, especially if they are able to sign Cespedes. With Jackson, Castro, Rizzo and Cespedes (assuming that they all pan out) that becomes a very solid 3-5 in a lineup a couple of years from now. Then if Vitters, Soler and Baez are able to join that group, the potential of that lineup could rival pretty much any other in the game.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Sorry I meant 2-5 or 3-6.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I think it could get exciting. The Cubs are beginning to build an impressive young core. I think adding Cespedes to that will really make it something they can really build on.

  • Hello everybody. I think it is overlooked how motivating it can be for a defector like Cespedes to finally get the chance to play against the best in the big leagues. And when they finally get the call, it can really energize them. Versus watching Aramis the last 2 years. Can you imagine how he would feel in his first game at Wrigley getting a standing ovation when he comes to bat. Sign him up boys.

  • Hey cubbieron, that's a good point and you can bet these guys are motivated to prove themselves in the best league in the world. I think this guy is going to work hard to make it.

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