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While his signing decision will not be watched with quite the same intensity as the Yu Darvish bidding process, Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will be the next big international name to drop.

Cespedes, 26, should officially reach free agency within another week or two, and I’d say it’s a fair bet he’ll sign soon thereafter. Even though he’s not technically a free agent now, surely teams have been in regular contact with his agent, and they know where they stand with respect to an offer. There will be some last minute jockeying, but I wouldn’t expect things to drag out much after he’s declared a free agent.

The exception to that expectation, I suppose, is if the majority of teams in on him don’t expect him to contribute in the bigs at any point in 2012, and thus aren’t in any rush to get him signed early (lest it continue to muck up their outfield plans). I tend to think that, while most teams don’t expect him to start in the bigs right out of the gate, they are thinking that he’ll be in the mix at some point (I certainly expect that’s what the Cubs are thinking). Combine that with Cespedes’ desire to play in the bigs this year, and you’ll probably have a number of teams that will want to get him under contract as soon as possible.

But the list of teams pursuing him the most aggressively may not include two of the big boys, the Yankees and Red Sox. This, according to Danny Knobler, who says neither team is expected to be heavily involved. Knobler adds that there is a divide in the Marlins’ front office about how heavily to pursue Cespedes. That could leave the Cubs as one of the outfielder’s primary suitors – but, keep in mind, there may be as many as a dozen teams that make an offer.

Knobler adds that 19-year-old Cuban prospect Jorge Soler continues to draw plenty of interest (he, too, is awaiting the official grant of free agency), including from the Cubs. Unlike Cespedes, however, I don’t necessarily expect Soler, who is a true prospect rather than a potential 2012 contributor, to sign right away upon reaching free agency. So long as he’s signed before the middle of the summer, his signing doesn’t count against the soon-to-be-imposed international spending limits. In other words, while he may not sign right away, he’ll sign at some point in the coming months, lest he see his bonus check reduced tenfold.

That the Cubs are expected to be heavily involved with both players makes sense, even if there weren’t sourced reports suggesting the same.

If Cubs plan to put all baseball revenue back into the organization, there is still a great deal of money available to spend in 2012. From the hip estimates of (1) revenue that will exceed $200 million, (2) a payroll that currently stands at $95ish million, (3) organizational/operational expenses approaching $20 million, and (4) draft and international spending effectively capped at $15 million, say there’s upwards of $70ish million left to spend. Even if a large chunk of those remaining dollars go to debt service payment/principal payment (the McDonald’s purchase was by the Ricketts family entity, rather than by the Cubs), there’s still a ton of money available to be spent on adding players to the organization.

If that money isn’t going to go to free agents like Prince Fielder or Edwin Jackson, it’s fair to guess that the Cubs will bid healthily on guys like Cespedes and Soler, who, incidentally, could both help with that whole “future” thing.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Cespedes kinda scares me, 26 and never seen anything above what is supposed to be AA pitching.

    I’d rather the Cubs focus on Soler.

    • Fishin Phil

      I agree with KCF,  I’m much more interested in Soler.

    • Kyle

      Also agree. And I think AA pitching is generous to the Cuban league. High-A is the comp I’ve always read.

      26 may just be too late to effectively make the adjustments to big-league quality breaking stuff.

    • alcan

      check out his 2009 WBC stats… that may scare you if you are a major league pitcher

  • Josem14

    Interesting how everyone considers Cespedes a “futures” player at 26 yrs old but don’t consider Fielder the same at 27 yrs old.

    Fielder would be a perfect fit for a team like the Cubs…left handed, power from the corner, extremely competitive and solid leadership skills. Understand Boras is fishing for a 10 yr deal like Pujols, however if he comes off that into the 5-7 yr range, it would be a no brainer.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    With That much money still available I still think we are in on Fielder. I’m sure an offer has been made and now Theo is just waiting will Boras plays his game.

    • CubFan Paul

      agreed. I think Boras already knows that he’l have to settle for 6-7yrs guaranteed w/ club options ..this will be Theo&Co.’s first big free agent test in Chicago

      • Wilbur

        I doubt it would be six or seven as that would put the second or last contract negotiation at 33 or 34 years of age and that would be a tough sell for big money.

        My opinion is that if they do go for much less than 10 years they take the opposite strategy and go for high dollars on four or five years with a second or last contract negotiation at 31 or 32.

        Some of this of course depends on Boras and Fielder’s willingness to accept some risk (declining skills and/or injury) for another good contract if the risk factors haven’t kicked in. I suspect they want to avoid risk and will take the best long term contract they can and that keeps Cubs out of the last round of negotiations.

        • CubFan Paul

          i doubt that. Its called “negotiating”. Theo&Co have said/rumored 5yrs on Fielder. Boras has said/rumored 10yrs. If they meet in the middle you get a 6-8yr deal maybe with “Club Options” to get up to Boras’s “10yrs”

          Who knows, maybe living in Lakeview will change Prince and he starts jogging on the shore for 60mins a day and he subsequently slims down in his early ’30s

          Or he stays fat.

          Fielder has no other Realistic suitors for his price tag. As soon as Boras admits that, Fielder will sign with the Cubs for 7-8guaranteed years and closer to Texiera&Gonzalez ($22Million) than to RyanHoward&Pujols ($25Million)

          • Wilbur

            You’re likely correct.

            I’m solely looking at it as what strategy allows the player to maximize dollars, which I assume to be two contracts which would have the first contract at exceptional value, but terminate in time for a second follow-up contract with a start age that still offered significant performance levels for several years.

            Conjecture on my part, and I don’t see happening …

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            I think the 6/7 thing is right on, Boras just hopes someone will go crazy with 10yrs

            • Wilbur

              Understood

  • JDP

    My opinion is if they don’t get one of the
    Three…it truly was a boring and very poor
    first off season for Threo and company

  • sam

    I would be hesidant too spend an outlandish amount of money of this potential media hype. I would rather the Cubs keep being a Scrooge this season rather than picking up this contract and being a scrooge for an entrnity.

  • Kyle

    I could be wrong, Brett, but I think you are underestimating operational expenses. It’s hard to guess too accurately, but I’m thinking more like $40 to $60 million total, including front office salaries.

  • Stinky Pete

    “Cespedes, 26, should officially reach free agency within another week or two,”

    (Spanish accent)  That sentence, you keep saying it.  I do not think you know what it means…

    (Done very tongue and cheek.)

    I know you keep hearing and thus keep reporting it, but man, I wish something would happen.  Personally I’m more excited about Soler than Cespedes.  Hope something happens soon!

  • kevin 3000

    So, so far, what’s the best move that has been made this offseason?

    Personally, I like the the DeJesus signing.

    • ferrets_bueller

      The Marshall trade, IMO.

      • CubFan Paul

        definitely. the 2B in that deal could be a .800plus OPS player, & sappelt is $500K/year fourth OutFielder

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          careful boys there are some on this site that believe we got nothing in that trade and Theo should be fired for selling a player high.

          • JasonB

            We should have held out for Joey Votto – Marshall is one of the best middle relievers in the game!  That’s worth at least Votto

          • CubFan Paul

            the market for *good* middle relievers on the trade market was two Top 20 prospects. Theo&Co got 3 Top twenty prospects of which 2 are Major League ready

            Jim Hendry eat your heart out

            • cubsnivy56

              Cheers!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I see the best move being the ones we didn’t make, not giving a player 10 yrs or 250M was the best move we made. Combine that with a radical shift in organizational philosophy and this is a good off season

      • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

        Amen.

        • JasonB

          Amen x 2

          • Wilbur

            It’s time to role out the Hallelujah Chorus on that one …

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            Make that x3
            I hope they do the same thing with The Greedy Prince at any exorbitant price level.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              It’s nicer during the day on the board isn’t it?

  • Dumpman

    Like many of you, after reading about both Soler and Cespedes, I’d much rather pursue Soler. Younger, higher ceiling, much cheaper. If you pay 50m clams to Cespedes, you’d like to expect him to produce right away. Not sure thats the case even at 26. They are anticpating 15m for soler correct?

  • cubincardinalland

    When I look at Cespedes, I think steroid freak. At 26, he is an overhyped prospect to me, and the footage I have seen of him looks like a long loopy swing. I’m just saying.
    Now Soler makes a whole lot of sense. Everything I have read about him gives the impression he would have been a top 5 pick in the draft last year. One comment I heard was a Cuban Clemente. Works for me.
    Question on the Cubs financial state. Down here in Southern Illinois, a lot of Cardinal fans have the impression that the Cubs are in deep financial trouble caused by debt, and their payroll will be drastrically reduced for years.
    Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, seems like it is a license to print money, and many ways to enhance revenue. What is the truth?
    Another thing I have heard is the Cubs sweetheart deal the Tribune set up with their station WGN is around 50 mil. a year, but expiring in the next few years. A potenital new local TV deal could bring 200 mil . a year, more even than the Angels new deal. Just a rumor? Happy holidays to all, boy I would sure love to go to that Cubs Convention, never been, is it fun?

    • Bails17

      Where do you see LONG in his swing. His swing does have a bit of tilt or lift…but I wouldn’t call it long. He is short and direct to the ball. The questions are:

      1. Is he 26?

      2. Is he a PED user?

      3. Can he make the adjustments to big league pitching?

      • Mick

        I agree in the assesment of a long loopy swing but I guess when you’re hitting low to mid-eighties fastballs it can tend to appear that way. I think that’s the scariest thing about Cespedes is that he’s entering the prime of his career and he hasn’t gone through a minor league system churn. Another thing to consider is the PED issue. I doubt Cuba has any testing so, what’s stopping an athlete from using? I like the idea of Soler better because he’s a low-risk development project.

        Imagine this future Cubs’ outfield with their MLB comparisions…

        LF Reggie Golden (Ron Gant)
        CF Matt Szczur (Jacoby Ellsbury)
        RF Jorge Soler (Roberto Clemente)

        But where’s Brett Jackson??? He got traded to the Padres for Anthony Rizzo.

        • Wilbur

          The next Clemente is out there, but saying Soler is that guy is quite a leap of faith.

          If he becomes a Cub I hope you’ve nailed it …

          • die hard

            Interesting you brought up Clemente…Nobody else sees that Cubs have the next Clemente…His name is Castro and he is being mispositioned at SS….set him free….release those chains…and move him to RF where he will soar….

    • Pat

      The club was below the debt/income ratio set by the league, but there’s really no penalty for that. The payroll likely will be lower than the levels it was with the Trib, as Rcikett’s now owes about 35 million a year to pay the interest on the loans, plua at some point they will want to pay off the principal. The Trib did not have those expenses.

      There is also a legal agreement with the city that they are required to build the triangle building (this was part of the bleacher expansion/extra night games agreement). That is another expense the Trib did not have to consider.

      The current WGN deal runs for several more years. I believe it expires in 2019, but I’ve also see 2022 out there, so I’m not positive on the date.

      So there probably is less money available than there was, but it’s not like the team is poor or in financial trouble – they just can’t afford 150 million a year payrolls.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Get.  Soler.

  • 2much2say

    These Cubans would fill a hole over the next 5-6 seasons. The total money would be about 20 mil for Soler and 55 mil for Cespedes. Fielder starts to make sense with these additions.
    OF set Cespedes Dejesus Soriano/Byrd/Jackson
    IF set Fielder 2nd? SS Castro 3rd Stewart/Vitters (Stewart ends up at 2nd)
    C Soto Castillo
    SP Garza Wood Dempster Zambrano Jeff Z/Wells/Rookie
    Marmol Wood ???

  • Randy

    I hear that Theo and Jed are consulting scout Cosmo Kramer on the Cubans.

  • Local Idiot

    Oh George! Not with my Cosmo!

    • Jim

      A woman in my department has a Cosmo mag on her desk – I am still master of my domain.

      • Local Idiot

        “King of the Castle”

  • JR

    I love Soler to the Cubs. But don’t other teams know how valuable a player of his age and upside are? Also, i am sure many teams will be willing to overspend for him considering the new drafting restrictions next year. Or am i off on that assesment??

  • 2much2say

    Fielder will get 7 years 175 mil with a 4th year mutual opt out

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I would not be surprised to see a contract like that, but I’d be shocked if the opt out is mutual (unless by “mutual” you mean unilateral – i.e., either side can opt out at that time, as opposed to both sides agreeing to opt out).

  • 2much2say

    Whatever deal goes down with Garza expect the Padres/ Angels or Texas to be involved.

  • 2much2say

    Mutual meaning Either, If Fielder out performs he can add 7 years if he doesn’t maybe he plays out the final 4 or becomes Free Agent at age 30/31

  • 2much2say

    Fielder and Vitters not a fit Cubs need Matt Dominguez., then Alonso Rizzo Morales Trumbo Moreland become targets. If we deal with the Angels, Marmol is a chip. Marlins would take Big Z (12-15 mil) and Vitters for Dominguez. Dejesus Castro Cespedes Alonso Jackson Stewart Dominguez Soto

  • Pingback: Lukewarm Stove: Byrd, Garza, Fielder, Soto, Rizzo, Cespedes, Barney, LaHair | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • 2much2say

    Matt Harrison to Padres / Alonso to Cubs / Garza to Texas / and whatever prospects are needed as filler

  • sam

    wOW Is Cesp 26 years old, can he be older? Its alot of money to invest to an older prospect thats …….. wow imagine the lineup for next year ……….besides our dissapointments we have alot of other teams dissapointments too- I smell a comeback player of year award for the CUbs – im hoping its a tight race hopefully we will have multiply winners !

  • Spencer

    I’m in Singapore and connected through Tokyo.  Didn’t see Darvish

  • 2much2say

    2much2say
    December 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink | Reply
    Fielder will get 7 years 175 mil with a 4th year mutual opt out

    5:10pm: MLBTR readers expect Prince Fielder to sign a long-term deal, but
    some general managers think agent Scott Boras could try something else. Several GMs told Peter Gammons of MLB Network that they think Fielder could agree to a three-year deal worth $26MM per season then return to the free agent market as a 30-year-old

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      The three year deal has been refuted by Boras himself, calling out Gammons as hitting the new years stash early,

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