The Chicago Cubs have been known to be in on 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for some time now, the big wigs of the organization having scouted him numerous times in the Dominican Republic. Now that Cespedes is on the verge of achieving residency there after playing for a week in the Dominican Winter League, his official free agency is going to begin soon.
And he says that, so far, the Chicago Cubs have shown him more love than any other team.
While Cespedes routinely lists about six interested teams – the Cubs as one of them – he hasn’t yet, to my knowledge, named any kind of leader for his services, which makes sense: he’s not a free agent yet, so it’s hard to have a leader.
But Cespedes admitted yesterday that, even in advance of his official free agency, the Cubs have shown more interest in him than any other team.
“Of all the teams who have come,” Cespedes said yesterday, “the one that has been the most interested in me has been the Chicago Cubs.”
Cespedes added that the Cubs have taken him to dinner multiple times in an attempt to convince Cespedes of the virtues of eventually joining the organization. But he was quick to caution that, just because the Cubs are the most interested, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to sign with them.
“I’ve eaten a few times with them and talked a lot, but that does not mean it is safe for me to come sign with them,” Cespedes said. “I’m just telling it like it is, they have shown more interest than others.”
Until now, it has been believed that the Marlins would be among Cespedes’ highest bidders (the team’s president recently said the Marlins would be bidding extremely aggressively for the outfielder), but it sounds like it’s safe to put the Cubs right up there.
Even if Cespedes is only revealing this information in an effort to drive up his price from another team, it’s clear that – unless he’s flat out lying about the Cubs’ efforts – the Cubs are aggressively courting Cespedes, and will be aggressively pursuing him once he reaches free agency. I’ve said for some time now that, given the Cubs’ cost-cutting offseason and future plans, a strong bid for Cespedes (and fellow Cuban Jorge Soler) makes a great deal of sense.
Cespedes is expected to need some time in the minor leagues to adjust to both the American game and the American life, but would like to participate in Spring Training. I would expect the situation to be resolved long before then.
(An aside on the age: while it could have just been a typo or a translation issue, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me ever-so-slightly nervous to see Cespedes listed as 27 in the article, rather than 26. Cespedes’ reported birthday is October 10, 1985, which would make him 26 for another nine months.)