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The baseball world has been buzzing about a possible top-line Cuban defector over the past couple of days, and, while initial reports didn’t have the Chicago Cubs listed among the player’s possible suitors, a source tells me the Cubs are indeed interested.

The player is 26-year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, whom Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein called “arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation.” He tore up Cuban baseball last year, hitting .333 with an OPS over 1.000. He had a record 33 homers in just 90 games. Add in the fact that he’s got speed, and is a talented defensive center fielder, it’s no wonder a dozen teams are interested in the Cuban defector.

One of those teams, according to a front office source, is the Chicago Cubs. The outfielder is expected to demand a contract as great as, or exceeding, the approximately six-year, $30 million contract top Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman received from the Reds before the 2010 season. Despite the hefty price tag, the Cubs are expected to be “involved,” says the source.

Phil Rogers has also suggested that the Cubs may have interest in Cespedes (calling the Cubs “intrigued”), but his column on the subject suggests that was more of a “the Cubs should pursue Cespedes,” rather than a “the Cubs will pursue Cespedes” kind of thing.

But, together with my source’s comments, I’d say it is fair to conclude that the Cubs are, at a minimum, monitoring the situation. If they decide to make a move on him, they’ll find plenty of competition, with the Yankees and Marlins among the most fervent suitors. The Marlins, in particular, could decide to spend inordinately on Cespedes in the hopes of strengthening the Cuban fan base in Miami commensurate with the opening of a new ballpark.

If the Cubs managed to land Cespedes, he could slide into any outfield spot, depending on what happens with left fielder Alfonso Soriano, center fielder Marlon Byrd, and top prospect Brett Jackson. That is assuming that Cespedes is immediately big league ready, of course.

Interestingly, outfield is one of the few system areas where the Cubs have a number of solid, athletic prospects. In addition to Jackson, there’s Matt Szczur, Jae Hoon Ha, Reggie Golden, Rubi Silva, and others – some closer to the bigs, some further away. Regardless, if the Cubs like what they see in Cespedes, he sounds like the kind of player you sign now, and ask organizational questions later.

Now that you’re excited about the mere possibility of Cespedes, allow this promotional YouTube video to temper (or multiply, depending on your bent) that excitement. It’s … interesting. It begins with a ‘Star Wars’ flying paragraphs thing, titled, ‘A New Hope.’ So, um, yeah. Kevin Goldstein talks you through the entire 20 minute work of art, in case you’re interested in his humorous commentary (it’s also useful if the video should happen to be taken down, as it has been multiple times).

  • poopypants mcgee

    I just have one thing to say

    SAAAAAAAAILLLLLLLLLLINGGGGGGGGGG

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Only a small handful of us will get that joke. At least I hope only a small handful of us delved that deeply.

  • Mike

    Reminds me of Soriano standing at the plate watching ball, instead of running to first!

    • johnbres2

      exactly–has a little Sosa “hop” too.

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    6 years / $30 million could be a bargain for this guy. I’d like to see him be at or near the top of the Cubs free agent shopping list.

    If he does sign, long term I think he would play in right with Szczur (center) and Jackson (left). Ha looks more like a fourth outfielder to me, and Golden is still at least three years away. I think the Cubs moved Silva back to second base when he returned from Daytona to Peoria. Long term, I’m not sure where he plays.

    • CubFan Paul

      Cespedes is a BEAST. i’m no scout, but i did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express lastnite and i would love to have this guy

      2010:$1M, 2011:$1M, 2012:$2M, 2013:$2M, 2014:$3M, 2015:$5M player option is Chapman’s deal ..Cespedes will definitely command more annually because of the demand/suitors and his projected power numbers

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        I might start at 4 years, $32 million with a mutual option for a 5th year at $10 million. That will not get the deal done, especially if the Yankees are involved, but I think it would be a good starting point.

      • Michael

        CubFan Paul…..How does ……..2010:$1M, 2011:$1M, 2012:$2M, 2013:$2M, 2014:$3M, 2015:$5M player option is Chapman’s deal = his 30 million contract??? I’m not trying to be a jerk….just curious because I thought he had a 30 mil contract. By the way, I think they should put out a bid for him too, especially with the money they saved by letting Aram and his 16 mil walk and if they let LaHair play 1st base, that would be another 10 mil in the Cubs pockets. If they move Zambrano, it’s possible they could save another 7 million which should put even more money in the Cubs pockets. Last but not least, if they could find a way to move Soriano they could possible save a little money there too. WOW!!!! that opens up a lot of money. They could sign Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish and still have money to burn. They then could go out and set their sights on Chase Headly to play 3B. He could be had cheaply and if you look at his career numbers away from Petco Park, he’s done a fantastic job. If the Cubs can do all of that then they just became more talented and a whole lot younger and still would be sitting on a lot more cash they could use later. If they really believed…I mean really really believed in Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes then maybe they could sign one or both to a larger paying contract but extend those contracts for many years instead of paying out the rear end for a 2 or 3 year deal saving the Cubs from paying one player $12 to $18 million a year. You might be able to pay someone like Yoenis Cespedes $60 million but over 8 years or something like that. That could be something he’d take over a $30 million for 3 years especially if it is a guaranteed contract. This was just an example but I think you get my point. Obviously, you would have to be pretty sure that the player or players are really worth that kind of commitment but if they turned out to be extremely successful and really good teammates then you would have these guys locked up for along time. If you did want to move them later, you probably still could because of the amount they are making per year which would be attractive to other teams wanting their services.

        • CubFan Paul

          Chapman has a $16.25million signing bonus

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    I’m not much of a Cubs.com message board user, but, like, did you guys know there’s a 48 hour(!) waiting period before you can post? I guess it’s a nice spam combatant, but it’s kind of annoying if you want to provide some information.

    Some folks were discussing this article there (http://www.forums.mlb.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=ml-cubs&tid=404116) and one was wondering (I choose to believe not sarcastically wondering) who “Brett” is. I hoped to answer in a completely neutral, helpful way (spreading the word, as it were), but no dice – 48 hour waiting period.

    It reminds me: Thanks again to everyone for helping ensure that this place does not become the kind of place where a 48 hour waiting period is necessary.

    • hansman1982

      Bert, get over yourself, you are just some random dude who has no credibility because you run a blog…dont you know we can only believe what the “Big Boys” from ESPN say?  Dang it Bert, get your head out of your ass…

      • montellew

        WHO IS BERT? I think you mean BRETT! LOL

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It’s an ongoing joke, Montelle. No worries.

      • TWC

        Welcome to BN, Montel.

        • JulioZuleta

          Indeed, welcome. But I think I speak for the masses when I say there will be no “lol”ing on Bleacher Nation.

          • TWC

            Is that in the bylaws?!

            • JulioZuleta

              If not, we need to make an addendum.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I don’t like to poo-poo on anyone’s style, but, generally speaking, I’m not an “LOL” fan, myself. Most text-speak annoys me, going back to my days on AIM. I never understood the rationale for not using complete sentences, words, and appropriate punctuation. Even on Twitter, where you’re necessarily constricted, my heart breaks a little when I’m forced to change “you” to “U” in order to save characters. I’m an old fart at heart.

                • TWC

                  O.  M.  G.

                • EQ76

                  I’ve got an education degree with a minor in English… all of the acronyms drive me nuts too. I’m not a big fan of “lol” at all. I am a “haha” guy myself.

                  • rocky8263

                    The expression that makes me nuts is “my bad”. And everyone seems to use it.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I say “my bust.” Any better?

                • chris margetis

                  I’d like to know the last time someone used LOL, that was actually laughing out loud. Probably less than 1%. And anyone who uses LOL verbally in a conversation should be punched.

                  • TWC

                    Yeah.  Punched with a sock full of pennies.

          • packman711

            And, as always, ROFLcopters are never in good taste.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Haha. I might now make an exception.

    • JulioZuleta

      “Who is Brett”????? Outrageous, that’s like asking who’s Madonna or Ghandi in Cubdom. As a matter of fact Brett, I would recommend dropping the “Taylor”, I think it’s just holding you back at this point.

    • Edwin

      “Who is Brett Taylor?”

      Is Brett Taylor a character from an Ayn Rand novel?

      • JulioZuleta

        Dammit Edwin, I have seen two of your posts and you have referenced Shakespeare and Ayn Rand. Knock it off, keep the literature references to Moneyball, or other sports related works. (Also, I am assuming your question is sarcastic, but if not shame on you).

  • oswego chris

    I was hoping this guy would come up…I have been reading about him on MLBTR…if age is right, I would sign him before Yu Darvish….if money is not crazy crazy I believe this would be money well spent..you are basically buying a legit prospect…like top ten in all of baseball prospect

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I’d still get in on Darvish too. If the Cubs can walk away with both Cespedes and Darvish without having to add an extra deck to Wrigley, it will be a good offseason and put the Cubs as they aim for contention in 2013.

    • hansman1982

      I think you see what you can free up between Sori and Z and offer him that.

      Anyone know if they have done calculations on the average cost per prospect a team spends on development from the time they are drafted until they hit 25 or each year?

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        I know those calculations have been done, but I’m not sure if they published anywhere on the web publicly. Those numbers are the reason you consistently hear good front office types say that dollar for dollar, money spent in the draft is the best value by an extremely wide margin.

        With back of the envelope numbers, I’m getting something like $300,000 in addition to the salaries and signing bonus in terms of investment over 5 years, but that is a really rough estimate. I think I’m in the ballpark, but that ballpark might be Petco…

  • Robbo

    What would Ricketts rather have….Cespedes in CF next season or that delicious pig he was roasting available at Wrigley concession stands? Hope we get both.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. Classic.

  • James

    we need more athletes on the team more ball players young with a good upside. 4 to 5 yrs for about 30 mil is a good investment. he reminds me of a young bo jackson. cuba seems to produce at least decent ball players alot better then some of the guys we have had in the past few seasons.

  • Aaron

    Looks like he has a lot of athletic potential… and strikes me as a guy that would be very bad for the clubhouse ego-wise. That’s just what I get from the video though.

  • die hard

    give me a break….first assuming hes only 26 (check his bc) what has he done against top line minor league pitching over 1000 at bats? Until someone can tell me, Id vote NO.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wouldn’t mind having Chapman on the Cubs. How’d he do against minor league batters before the Reds signed him?

  • hansman1982

    We need to start an office pool on whom will have the largest payroll next year, Cardinals, Yankees or the Marlins.

  • oswego chris

    I agree with checking his age( see Cubans Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez )…but I would argue that the he sees at least AAA type pitching in the Cuban league…

    and I get the feeling you would vote ‘No’ on lots of things sir…

  • JasonB

    I liked one of the comments at the bottom of Goldstein’s article:

    “Forget the baseball part of this, I want to buy his workout video.”

    This guy’s ego makes Carlos Zambrano look like Greg Maddux

  • Windy City Misfit

    Does he do the Sammy hop after each HR?

  • duck

    None of the homers Cespedes hit were gimmes, that’s a guarantee. The air in Cuba is THICK. For every Colorado homer here that comes with an asterisk, every one he hit there, he earned.

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  • BetterNews

    I am not buying into this whole Cespedes thing. He is being hyped and I don’t believe much of it. For starters, he weighs 215. Are we to really believe he is is some kind of speed demon. You look back at the truly quick in baseball, say Lou Brock, Ricky Henderson, Joe Morgan, Tim Raines and Ty Cobb, the one thing they all had in common was the weighed between 160 and 180 lbs, no heavier. Tony Campana weighs 165 I believe. I believe Cespedes is a “steroid” balloon ready to pop. Add to this the big question of whether he could hit MLB pitching and I think this guy is a bust.

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