Lukewarm Stove: The Hard Sell on Yoenis Cespedes?

Yesterday, multiple reports confirmed that Chicago Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer had flown to the Dominican Republic to, among other things (and other players), get a first-hand look at 26-year-old Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes. And, as noted in last evening’s roundup, at least one report had the duo not only scouting Cespedes, but meeting with one of his advisors.

I want to say this precisely, so as not to stimulate undue excitement, while simultaneously accurately expressing the importance of these events. That Epstein and Hoyer both took the time – at this time of year – to head to the DR to scout Cespedes in person (the Cubs have scouts, you know, and Scouting/Player Development Chief Jason McLeod has already scouted Cespedes in person) is quite meaningful. The suggestion that they were also meeting with Cespedes’ advisor is also quite meaningful. But neither fact/suggestion necessarily means the Cubs will sign Cespedes or even make him an offer. Indeed, Cespedes isn’t quite yet a “free agent” (his residency in the DR isn’t quite yet processed, which is the first step), and a meeting with his agent, Adam Katz, would have to come first.

As I reported a couple weeks ago, the Cubs have been interested in Cespedes for some time, and have been planning on making a run at him. Nothing has changed on the Cubs’ end since then (see, for example, the trip to the DR), but the outward appearance of interest from other teams has skyrocketed. A number of teams have been to the Caribbean to watch Cespedes, and sources are saying his previously-believed $30 million, six-year asking price is suddenly far too low.

Still, the Cubs apparently aren’t scared off. They’re breaking out the big guns. To be sure, meeting with Cespedes’ advisor could have been as much about getting additional information on Cespedes’ background (including age), development, and contract demands, as it could have been about the Cubs expressing interest. I have no doubt those things were part of the meeting. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a bit more.

Again, without stimulating undue excitement, let me suggest that it would be pretty flattering to have superstar executives like Epstein and Hoyer come down to visit you in person, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for the duo to be making the visit with the intention of putting on the hard sell.

It’s happened before.

I’m reminded of a certain Thanksgiving visit to Curt Schilling’s house back in 2003, when the Red Sox were hoping to convince Schilling to accept a trade that would take him to Boston.

The visitors? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

19 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: The Hard Sell on Yoenis Cespedes?”

  1. die hard

    Hopefully they spent the bosses’ money wisely by flying coach, staying at a Super 8, eating at Mcdonalds, checking on the progress of 16-17 yr old prospects, and not seriously considering making an offer to another Soriano.

    1. Wilbur

      DH, I really do enjoy your posts. I am an absolute believer that someone needs to continually offer the opposition view, keeps us all thinking versus just listening. Rarely agree with you, but that’s not important.

      In ancient Rome when Caesar Augustus lead his victorious army through the City to celebrate the conquest of Cleopatra’s Egypt he had a slave ride along with him whispering in his ear, “You are not a god!”

      While DH’s economic status is hopefully better than my analogy, I see DH as our resident skeptic and who’s response I always look for.

    2. Luke

      Another Soriano? We can hope! Cespedes will get at least a 6 year deal. From Baseball Reference, here are Soriano’s OPS+ and WAR for the six season starting at age 26.

      26 – 129 / 4.7
      27 – 126 / 4.0
      28 – 100 / 0.8
      29 – 108 / 1.7
      30 – 135 / 5.7
      31 – 122 / 3.6

      Considering that Cespedes’s deal is highly unlikely to be anywhere remotely close to the dollar amount on Soriano’s, I’d be absolutely thrilled if the Cubs land him and he turns into another Soriano.

      1. Dougy D

        Hopefully he can catch a baseball at least. That would put him a step above Soriano.

    3. Deer

      Theo took your advice, but actually saved a few more dollars by relying on dominican street food the last few days according to my sources. mcdonalds is kind of a luxury over there. Rumors are swirling they skipped the hotel and bunked at a hostel instead. hope you’re happy.

  2. Cedlandrum

    too late already creamed my pants.

  3. pfk

    Everyone keeps saying that the Cubs will not be competitive in 2012 and it is a rebuilding year. I can easily see the Cubs being very competitive next year. They have a couple of kids who have the potential to be big contributors. They have some holdovers that aren’t shabby and in Castro’s case, a budding superstar. They have a good serviceable bullpen. By adding a couple of starting pitchers and a couple of athletic position players, both of which are very doable, I can see them being very competitive. While I doubt they can overtake the Cards and Brewers, I think they can give them a good run. Then, based on needs and the maturing of kids, I can see 2013 being very good. In the meantime, I don’t subscribe to the theory that the Cubs will be non-competitive in 2012. I think alot of people are going to be surprised. I also don’t think we know the true budget for 2012. Ricketts has been full of surprises and is doing everything that Theo & Co. ask.

    1. ottoCub

      While I think the most important things for the Cubs to focus on is long-term consistent success, starting with a strong and balanced farm system, I also think it is completely possible that the Cubs could have a strong turn-around year in 2012, and be very competitive.

      Looking back at 2011: the Cubs lost their #4 and #5 starters for most of the year; they lost their #2 starter for the last month of the season; they lost their starting center-fielder for nearly half the year; they got no power production from their third baseman for the first third of the year; they had a lame-duck general manager for almost half the year; and they suffered through managerial decisions that may have cost them 5 wins. If they can pick up a few key pieces this off-season (most importantly, replacing Ramirez’s offensive output and finding another consistent innings-eating starter) and remain healthy in 2012, it seems possible they could win 15 more games than they did in 2011. This would put them in position to compete for a wild-card spot in 2012.

  4. Cliffy

    QT @HotStoveCubbies: Theo and Co. to make offer to Cespedes? Two sources say they will before leaving the Dom. Rep. #cubs #theo

  5. Packman711

    Its nice to have true professionals at the helm. These guys are classy and know how to run a team.

    1. Smitty

      I agree that these two appear to be very classy and plan on doing things the right way. You can understand why Theo would leave his dream job when the owners of that dream job are operating with very little class lately. It has to stink being Cherington trying to make a strong first move in hiring your manager and then have Lucchino step in and take all your hard work and throw it out the window.

      I hope Hoyer, Epstein and Co. continue to do things with class.

  6. Kyle

    On the one hand, I trust Epstein and Hoyer and the brain trust. If they like this guy, I like him.

    On the other, you are talking about a 26-year-old who has never consistently faced AA-quality breaking stuff. There’s going to be an adjustment and there’s no guarantee he can come out on the other side of it. But plus-defense in CF and good plate discipline can paper over a lot of hitting problems, so that gives him some margin for error.

    1. Luke

      He put up some very solid numbers in that world cup style event, and that was at least AAA caliber. Granted, that was one tournament which wouldn’t qualify as consistent success, but there is at least a little data to indicate he can make the adjustments. And like you said, a patient approach and good defense can make a lot of problems less problematic.

  7. Cliffy

    QT @Haudricourt: For those who want to watch MLB’s new labor deal live at noon CST, it is being broadcast by MLB Network and http://t.co/guKvRXNF.u

  8. Mike Foster

    Why would anyone believe this guy IS 26 until it’s been proven?

    1. DaveB23

      I really don’t think that’s as big of a concern right now considering the guy is just starting his career. If he was in his 30s (claimed age) and commanding a 10 year contract worth $200 million (a la Pooholes) is when it would be a much bigger concern.

    2. Dougy D

      Hmmmm. Kind of reminds me of the the whole Obama deal. I think that when you are signing a guy to a 4 or 6 year deal, it doesn’t matter if he is 26 or 28. As long as he can perform, that is the key. I have not seen anything of him, so I sure hope he is worth whatever they offer him. It would be heartbreaking to throw a bunch of money at another underperforming international player.

      1. BetterNews

        Dougy—I agree. I can’t stand the thought of another Soriano type deal that would weigh the club down for another six years! I’ll be dead by the time we get to the WS>

      2. Eric

        Obama, international player. Fruedian slip? Are you a birther by chance?