Now that Yu Darvish’s negotiating rights have been won by the Texas Rangers, that leaves one more notable international free agent still up for grabs: Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes.
According to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas, Cespedes is close to establishing residency in the Dominican Republic, the first step toward making him eligible for MLB free agency. That would make Cespedes ready to accept bids from interested teams sometime in mid-January, about a month before the start of spring training.
About a half-dozen teams are most interested in the outfielder, but with speculation centered on a $50 million price tag — in the form of a major-league deal –that number may dwindle down to the larger market clubs. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and
Florida – I mean - Miami Marlins seem to be the most aggressive suitors for Cespedes.
Cuba's Yoennis Cespedes watches his third hit of the game as he drives in his fourth run of the game iagainst Mexico during their World Baseball Classic in March 2009. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Thanks to the good people at Bleacher Report, we’re able to find out more about Yoennis Cespedes who has become a YouTube sensation of sorts. Rick Weiner, a featured columnist for Bleacher Report covering the New York Yankees, does a great job breaking down the latest video featuring Cespedes.
Just over six minutes into the video, we get to see Cespedes in the field. After almost two minutes of warming up, he unleashes his throwing arm, which looks to be both strong and accurate.
Around the 13-minute mark, we see Cespedes taking batting practice. He knocks the ball all over the field, hitting two balls out of the stadium and then apparently just because he can, he drives a ball into the stands from the left side of the plate. Note, Cespedes is naturally a right-handed batter and is not known to be a switch hitter.
*A tip of the hat to Tim Dierkes over at MLB Trade Rumors for this post. This is exactly what I was planning on writing about today. Please click here for Tim’s article and to participate in the poll as to where Prince Fielder will end up playing next season and for how long.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes and wonders, isn’t Fielder entitled to an Albert Pujols-like contract, as a 27-year-old coming off a monster season?
The short answer to that question is, absolutely! Fielder is, what? Four or five years younger than Pujols and is technically still in his prime.
The problem is the marketplace, however, writes Morosi. The teams with the biggest payrolls don’t appear to be fits for Fielder.
- Last week, MLBTR posted this poll about Fielder’s destination. While the Cubs led with 24% of the vote, they almost seem to be the default pick for Fielder since there is no obvious favorite.
I agree with Dierkes’ assessment. I doubt the Cubs would do an eight, nine, or ten-year deal for Fielder. I’m having trouble finding any team that would do so, assuming an average annual value around $25MM is required.
“Super Agent” Scott Boras certainly has his work cut out for him. The Prince needs a place to play next year. Not only that, but he needs to be happy. A happy Prince translates to a productive Prince. I’m of the belief that the best fit for Fielder is the Texas Rangers. Here’s why:
With C.J. Wilson gone, the Rangers now have to consider other options. Fielder fills their biggest weakness. Relative to the rest of the league, first base was the only position where they received below-average output in 2011, a .271/.331/.422 combined line from Mitch Moreland with some Michael Young and Mike Napoli mixed in. With Napoli flashing a better glove behind the plate than Angels manager Mike Scioscia ever believed, and Young being surprisingly inadequate at first base, Fielder would provide a significant upgrade at first base. Fielder’s not winning any Gold Gloves any time soon, but he should be able to handle first for a few more years before his performance begs for a move to DH.
Rangers officials said at the Winter Meetings that they don’t currently see how Fielder fits into their financial plans. Of course, things can change. But the Rangers also want to keep as much of this core group together as they can in the future. They are looking at not just 2012, but beyond. They want to increase their playoff chances for the long haul and just sticking with the core costs money.
So if Fielder wants an 8- or 10-year contract, that doesn’t seem to matchup with what the club has planned. Walking around the lobby of the Hilton Anatole last week, it was clear that scouts and officials with other teams certainly expect the Rangers to jump into the Fielder sweepstakes. But the club is trying to look big picture. If Fielder can fit into that picture, I’m sure they’ll look into it. If he doesn’t, they won’t overspend just to counter what the Angels did.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden listed four possible locations for free-agent Prince Fielder to eventually land. The list: Rangers, Cubs, Mariners, and Orioles. You can read that here (insider).
As we are just weeks away from the July 31st trade deadline, there are some hot trade topics going around baseball.
Heath Bell, the closer for the San Diego Padres, could help out some contending teams in the bullpen. Rafael Furcal, shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, could provide a spark if put in a winning position on an up and coming team. Matt Garza, starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, may be an answer as the 4th or 5th starter for a club over .500.
These moves are most likely to occur later this month, with some key trade pieces to be returned in the process. If you are an Orioles fan though, there may not be much, if any movement on the waiver wire in late July. Who knows if any team will give the Baltimore Orioles somebody of value in return?
Here are some names that the Orioles may put out there for trade bait:
Vladimir Guerrero: At the age of 36, Guerrero isn’t playing like the Vlad of old. Not only dead bolted in the designated hitters role, Guerrero has grown impatient at the plate with just 11 walks and a .279 batting average in 83 games. And not to mention, his hustle is so horrid that I sometimes believe that my 73 year old grandmother could outrun him. But let us not forget the Vladimir Guerrero of old. The one who has a career .318 batting average, a .380 on base percentage, 443 home runs, and 1,464 runs batted in. There are contending teams out there who could use that type of veteran presence in their lineup, day in and day out. Maybe Vlad is having a bad year…..or maybe he needs a quick change of scenery.
Derrek Lee: While reliable at first base with his glove, Lee hasn’t put up the type of numbers the Orioles expected him to have for 2011. Lee, 35 has been hitting .235 with 9 home runs and 28 RBI’s in the heart of the O’s lineup. Although despite the numbers, there may be a place out there that could use a player like Derrek Lee. Lee does have a World Series ring as a member of the 2003 Flordia Marlins, and has been to the playoffs on 3 other occasions with the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. Lee may never hit 46 home runs like he did years ago in Chicago but if there are any teams in the National League with postseason aspirations, they would be dumb not to have someone like Derrek Lee on their team.
Jeremy Guthrie: Oh my, this one hits the heart a little bit. Not because Jeremy Guthrie, 32 is related or anything. But in all of the years he has fought hard for the franchise, whether it was as the number 3 starter or the ace, he never got the wins that he deserved. In 2007, Jeremy Guthrie went 7-5 with a 3.70 ERA in 26 starts. Not bad for being a starter in the AL East….but what happened since then? 34-55 with a 4.20 ERA?!?! Is there something wrong with this statistic? Or how about being 3-12 with a 4.18 ERA in 2011? As the ace? I don’t think there is anymore that needs to be said. If the Baltimore Orioles organization has any respect for Jeremy Guthrie, they would make him the main trade bait. Imagine Jeremy Guthrie as the 5th starter for the Philadelphia Phillies, he would probably never lose another game! And I’m sure the Phillies wouldn’t mind having a solid number 5 starter on their team which is most likely heading to the National League Championship Games. I hope this happens for Jeremy Guthrie, he deserves it.
Every baseball fan in the world knows the name of Scott Boras. For those not acquainted, Boras is not a flame-throwing lefty out of the pen or a baseball-demolishing power hitter. No, he’s simply an agent.
But unlike other agent, who normally ply their wares behind the scenes, get the best for their clients quietly and then move one, Boras actively pursues not only publicity—which he does to normally great effect—but seems to enjoy actively attracting confrontation with management and GMs. His thought process seems to be “Confrontation will bleed the bucks for my client. And therefore me.”
But does it? Do Boras’ negotiation tactics actually work? Is he good for his clients? Let’s take a look.
We always hear about Boras having several teams interested including the famous “mystery team”. The most interesting client of his this off-season is Johnny Damon. Reports are that Damon is on the verge of signing with the Detroit Tigers for 2 years at $14 million per. I’m baffled by that because that is the exact deal that Boras advised Damon to reject from the Yankees in early December.
For Damon, this is the second contract in a row that his price has had to drop dramatically. However, this time, the Yankees aren’t there to save him.
In 2006, when Damon came up for free agency, John Henry II, owner of the Red Sox flew to Damon’s home in Florida to tell him how important he was to the Red Sox and how badly they wanted him back. The Red Sox then offered a 4-year, 40 million-dollar contract. Boras dismissed it out of hand and said negotiations for the 34-year-old Damon begin at 7 years at roughly 90 million.
To the surprise of no one, the market did not bear that out.
Playing the Red Sox and Yankees against each other, Boras hoped to drive Damon’s price up. And while he was party successful—Damon did get his 13 million annual—he got it for only 4 years, not for 7. According to the Red Sox, they were shocked by Damon’s signing—Boras never offered a counteroffer to the Red Sox; he never even told them that Damon was signing with the Yankees at all. According to the Red Sox, they were negotiating with Boras and felt that a deal would be worked out at some point—that they were on the same page and that there was an understanding between Damon and them. Former co-general manager Jed Hoyer retroactively described talks the Damon talks with Boras ‘’as very productive.”
However, despite that fact that no one offered Damon anything more than 4 years, much less 7, Damon secured a nice paycheck and was content. Things did not work out so well the past time Damon reached free agency.
When Damon reached free agency in 2009, Boras decided to play hardball with the Yankees. Despite Damon’s obvious love for the Yankees and New York, Boras said to Yankee GM Brian Cashman in early December that Damon would not take a penny less than $13 million per year for two years. Don’t even make an offer if it doesn’t have that figure in it. Naturally, the Yankees GM said: “We believed him,” Cashman said.
Instead the Yankees, much to the surprise of Boras and Damon, have decided to go with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn and a host of Plan B guys, minor leaguers and journeyman in left field. Boras, who had previously constantly rebuffed the Yankees whenever they tried to negotiate with Boras for Damon, according to Buster Olney, ultimately priced himself out of his preferred choice, the Yankees, but seemingly almost the entire league. Too pricey and no longer an option for the Braves, the Tigers, the A’s and the Cubs, and seemingly forced to accept a 4 million dollar deal from the Rays. A far cry from the 13 million he demanded from the Yankees. Out of work, I’m sure there are some nights Damon wished he took the Yankees final offer of 6 million per. Oooops.
Boras has been known as the “super agent”, but that title is being put in question. Yes, Scott Boras thinks only of money. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s his job. However, this year’s salary and the best long-term interests of the athlete do always coincide. And they certainly aren’t what is best for baseball. The betterment of baseball notwithstanding, what Boras seeks just isn’t in the interest of the best interest of his clients sometimes—career-wise, or even financially long-term-wise. Sometimes it behooves players to pick what best serves their personal interests long-term rather than the bottom line.
Ultimately its up to the client. Whatever the athlete wants, no matter what Boras may believe is what should play out. However, considering Boras’ track record, we should consider that Boras’ goal is not always what is in the best interest of his client. It is for the most money. Which is in what is best interest for Boras.
That needs to be checked on.