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As expected, it didn’t take long.

After achieving residency in the Dominican Republic earlier this week, and, with whisper last evening that he had reached free agency, it’s now official: 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is a free agent.

The Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins are expected to be among Cespedes’ most serious bidders. I never like to create unnecessary optimism, but the tea leaves look good for the Cubs:

  • The Cubs have been in on Cespedes since early November. (*Cough* first reported by me *cough*)
  • Cespedes, himself, has previously said the Cubs have been pursuing him the most aggressively.
  • Danny Knobler says others in MLB report that Cespedes has said he would prefer not to go to Miami.
  • Kevin Goldstein said, after talking to various international folks last week, that he believes the Cubs are the most likely Cespedes destination.
  • The Cubs have the money to spend on someone like Cespedes.

Don’t get your hopes up, because, as Prince Fielder just demonstrated, anything can happen.

  • Cliffy

    Brett, Any guess what the final winning offer will be?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I could throw out a number, but it would be a totally blind guess. Since these things tend to skew higher than you expect, I’d say six years and $50 to $60 million is a strong possibility.

      • Mayor1969

        That sounds like more than I’d be willing to offer a guy who has never seen a single major-league pitch. I think he’s incredibly gifted, but how those gifts translate is another thing entirely.

        • ferrets_bueller

          Well, the same went for Darvish- and he cost the Rangers significantly more money than Cespedes will.

          I think Soler+Cespedes is a safer bet than Darvish, and should cost less.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Would you be happy if the Cubs signed him to that contract?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah. Obviously I’d prefer less, but, given his age and talent, it’s worth the relatively modest risk.

          • Kansas Cubs Fan

            I’m totally convinced he has great talent, but I’m just not convinced he can translate it to the MLB.

             

            • SirCub

              Did you not see those box jumps he did in his training video?

              • Kansas Cubs Fan

                Haha

              • ogyu

                Yea, if the bases were each 36-inches high, I’d be in favor of paying Cespedes whatever he asked…

      • When the Music’s Over

        $10M/year on a guy that hasn’t seen tougher competition than Cuban ball. I’d call that more than a modest risk. On the other hand, at $5-6M/year, 100% well worth the shot.

        Either way, if the Cubs are only willing to go $5-6M/year and the Marlins are willing to pay close to $10M, I’d imagine he won’t mind being a Marlin.

  • Mike Foster

    So how much should this 29 year old untested in MLB player be worth?

  • Chaz

    I’ll shoot a guess of 5/62m

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sadly, that’s not a crazy guess.

  • Sayueri

    I’d prefer to get Soler.

    • MightyBear

      I’d rather have Soler and the pitcher.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Depending on the cost, sure.

      Fortunately, it’s not an either or situation. The Cubs can easily afford both.

      • Cedlandrum

        with Soler and Cespedes to go along with Rizzo, Jackson, Baez, Szczur and McNutt I would think that would make the Cubs a top 10 minor leagues system. Now if we get a haul from Garza. Top 5.

    • Brian

      Why not all three of them?

      • cubsnivy56

        Exactly, greedy is good!

  • Brian

    Let’s get this one over and done quickly. I for one, am ready for a potential signing like this to fall the Cub’s way.

    • SirCub

      Which Cub?

  • andrewmoore4isu

    Any speculation on why he wouldnt want to go to miami? I figured maybe he didnt like seafood but other than that, I dont know.

    • Dave

      Good question. You would think it would be a natural fit but you never know what a player is thinking. Supposedly Fukudome chose the Cubs over the Sox even though the Sox made a higher offer becasue he wanted to be on a team that had never signed a Japanese born player.

    • Jim

      All those crazy Cuban exiles…or maybe he doesn’t want the pressure of performing in that atmosphere.

    • ogyu

      I heard it’s because he thinks LeBron’s a douche.

    • scorecardpaul

      I bet it’s because he doesn’t like big Z.

      • andrewmoore4isu

        I would guess because Chicago is just a bigger market. I dont know if players make money selling jerseys or what ever, but he knows if he plays in chicago there wil be at least 30,000 asses in the seat and if he probably saw or knows of the recognition fukudome go in his first year with the cubs. He probably wants that. If fukudome went to lets say…. the Astros, most people wouldnt know you could make a cool pun with his name like everyone does now.

    • ferrets_bueller

      I doubt he knows this much, but I know for one I’d have serious qualms about signing with the marlins…I’m sorry, but this whole ‘increased payroll’ thing still smells awfully fishy to me, especially with the possible allegations that were talked about a few months ago…that whole organization could be a complete trainwreck in a couple of years.

  • cubsnivy56

    If they think he is good, it is a rare opportunity to pick up a potential star.

  • Ron

    I wonder what the Cubs farm system would be ranked if the signed all 3. Any thoughts?

    • andrewmoore4isu

      my guess is the pitcher wouldnt do much to the rankings and soler would be ranked as a B+ just like rizzo and jackson. I dont think cespedes can be considered a prospect at 42 years old

      • ferrets_bueller

        I thought he was 46? And used to work out with Bonds?

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      Cespedes would fit somewhere in the league Top 20. Soler would be lower than that, but I think he’d still be league Top 100. Concepcion would not be ranked that high, but I think he’d still check in somewhere in the bottom third of the Cubs Top 30.

      If the Cubs got all three, I think they’d vault up to the Top 10 farm systems over all, maybe in the 7-10 range. Just Cespedes could put them close to Top 10.

      • Kyle

        Baseball America’s Ask BA guy said earlier this offseason that Soler would be in the top quarter of their top 100 list.

      • CubFan Paul

        your not high on concepcion? for a youngster he’s pretty good and may only need two years to reach the bigs

  • necusfan

    “Don’t get your hopes up, because, as Prince Fielder just demonstrated, anything can happen.”
    If I didn’t get my hopes up I wouldn’t be a Cubs fan. Hope and disappointment are the only two things i’ve been able to count on as a Cubs fan. That being said, I really hope the Cubs are able to sign him.

  • Kyle

    His potential and talent would be a great fit for the Cubs. His age is another upside, 26 years old and has great Power and Speed. I’d say the contract will be about 6 or 7 years between $55 and $65 Million. I’ll even go up to $70 Mil. but that maybe too much. Also Conception and Soler are still out there also. I think we can get one of the two depending on how much Cespedes costs.

  • Mark

    So how much would the value of our system improve if we landed all 3?

  • Doug

    Anyone want to venture a guess as to how long he remains a free agent?

    • ferrets_bueller

      Hopefully, about 30 minutes…until he signs with team from the north side of the city by the lake.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    I must be missing something. All of you guys saying you wouldn’t mind 50, 60 , maybe even 70 million for this guy?

    I understand he is a very good player in his league, but that price is ridiculous for a 26 year old prospect.

    And yes he is a prospect.

    I’m lost.

    • Eric

      I think the main thing comes in a trust factor for people who laymen Cubs fans like me, have for Theo and Jed. And it’s been widely reported that the Cubs were there from the beggining. There is even a picture of Theo there watching Cespedes. In my words, if the insanely bright guys who now head the Cubs baseball operations GENUINELY like the guy, and are willing to spend. Then I trust they have done their homework, and that Cespedes is someone worth going after.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        I trust that Theo, Jed, and Jason know what they’re doing. I’ll be skeptical no matter what team signs him.

        • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

          Keep in mind, it’s not just the Cubs who are high on this guy. Virtually every single major league scouting operation is high on this guy. Even in the case of Fukudome, there were organization that were skeptical he could repeat his Japanese success in America. If Cespedes has any such professional critics, they are hard to find.

          I have a hard time believing that nearly every professional scout who has seen this guy play can be that wrong. For me, Occam’s Razor says he’s legit no matter how skeptical I may be.

          Also, at $10 million a year, he doesn’t have to be Barry Bonds to be worth the contract. $10 million equates to roughly a WAR of 2.0. I think he’ll have a dWAR of at least 1.0. That means he can be fairly mediocre at the plate and still out perform his contract. I’ll take that risk.

    • Cubbiecop

      I agree with you KC, I am a bit concerned with his showing in the dominican league as well. He hits one home run and strikes out like it is going out of style…. I saw his video and yes, he looks like a great “athlete” with his jumps and speed and all that. But lets be honest with ourselves here. I believe that Fielder is a great “ball player” and not an athlete with his weight. Same for CC Sabathia. I think if either one of them tried to go for a triple or an inside the park homerun (for arguements sake lets say the center fileder and right fielder collided and knocked each other out cause that’s the only way it would happen) I think they would die before hitting home plate. That being said they are elite talents. Filder can rake and CC can dominate any line-up. Cepedes has not show me that he can hit or field well enough to command that kind of money. That’s like taking a college kid and giving him a 50 million dollar contract, neither of them have seen major league pitching. I would say sign him to a 3 yr deal worth 25 million max to prove he can hit major league pitching. Also lets not forget we already have a log jam in the outfield with Brett Jackson waiting to be called up, unless we find suitors for Byrd and Soriano… So one year at least will be spent in AAA, IMO. That’s a lot of money sitting in the minors.

      With that being said we will all have to have faith in the scouting department that they have seen something special with this kid and believes he could be worth the risk and cash. Obviously they did a good job in Boston so i’m sure they know what to look for. I just don’t see it and that’s why I’m not a scout for the Cubs. :(

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        I think we’re pretty much on the same page, paragraph, and sentence when it come to this subject.

  • Eric

    In all this excitement, I totally forgot what outfield position Cespedes plays. Do we have any scouting on his defense? Obviously we know he’s a power guy, athletic, and good speed. Most people probably figure he’s atleast going to have a moderate success in MLB. In all, even if you pay the guy 8,9 mil a year for 6 years, he could easily be worth 5-10 mil based on his performance, so you won’t end up “overpaying” him that much. And offense is sorely needed for the Cubs right now.

    • Kyle

      He’s supposed to be an above-average but not great defensive CFer, or a very good LFer.

  • Kyle

    I’ve come around on him. The track record for Cuban players is better than I thought it was, and the statistical translations look pretty solid.

    He should be an above-average starter for the next four or five years, at least. I’d have no problem paying him $6m to $8m per year.

    I think he’s going to disappoint some people in that he’s not an all-star caliber player. But he should be above average.

    Our front office does its homework. If they think this guy can play, he can play.

  • A.J.

    Anybody see on espn last night after Prince signed the Tigers went from 7-1 odds to 4-1 to win it all. I can see that but how did they figure the Cubs odds were 6-1 that was among the best odds out of all the teams?

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      A lot of people betting on the Cubs shortens the odds. Cub fans must be optimistic this year.

  • Joker

    Okay, I’ll venture my guess in this whole thing – he signs for 6 years and $52.75 million.

  • BN”Legs”

    With the changes in the way that teams can dish out bonus money to draft picks, this is an opportunity for the Cubs to dish out the money they would have spent on bonus to their 2012 draft picks. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jed and Theo make very serious offers to all three of these Cuban free agents. Kinda a no-brainier as it costs nothing but money.

    The Cubs aren’t going to be cheap, they are just attempting to build from within and adding any or all of these Cuban free agents fits into that plan nicely.

  • Dave

    Since none of us are scouts much less even seen him play(I assume) we really don’t know what size contract he is worth. Theo and Co have a much better grasp on his talent then any of us so I assume they will bid accordinly assuming they make him an offer. Regarding his correct age, has that even been an issue with Cuban players coming to the states?

  • SouthernCub

    Still DON’T want him……..the end

  • Mike F

    I guess it comes down to what is value. The other thing to consider is what kind of Box Theo may have been placed in. Ricketts says all the right things and clearly I do agree with Brett they have the money. I guess I see this differently in that, I, just me, would opt for production known. I understand that Theo has the philosophy of paying fro future not past performance, but when you look at Edwin Jackson for example who is now looking maybe a 1 year deal with Boston, Garza and even Fielder, I’m still not certain why projecting future performance on a project like Cespedes is a better bet than those 3. I do understand that they like the 5 tools, but bluntly, just me, if they want tools, I’d sign Jackson and trade Garza and Byrd to Boston for Crawford and a couple of prospects. To me, Carl Crwaford is more talented and more of know risk than Cespedes and I know I’m not throwing away 60 M, in taking the rest of his 122 M contract.

    I think we get sissified over big contracts, it’s all relative. Soriano is a very “old” 36 unlike Crawford at 31. Crawford is a 5 tool guy who didn’t adjust to Boston, but the 5 tools didn’t go away, they are still there. And Soriano was bought high based on a couple of good years and Lou. He was a defensive liability and I remember well everyone in baseball condemned the Cubs and Hendry for the ridiculous contract. I trust Theo and understand the emphasis of everyone on youth, but this guy really isn’t a young guy and he I question playing this kind of money for a guy who could struggle to adjust and doing so when if anything they to me appear to have better avenues to build with.

    I understand Brett’s point, that it’s a lottery style ticket and a decent gamble, I guess I can live with that, but if it’s wrong, I just don’t understand why paying for projected performance on God know what basis of analysis, is better than on know performance say of a 27 or 28 year old guy? Just my view.

    • Cedlandrum

      Crawford is not a 5 tool player.

  • Zelie

    Wouldn’t there be a decent possibility, though, that the total dollars on the contract would include a fair portion of incentives and (high hopes) an opt-out clause? Assuming that the Cubs actually are in the negotiating position they appear to be in, and given all of the uncertainties regarding the leap from Cuban ball to MLB that he’s about to make, wouldn’t Cespedes be a good candidate for such things? In other words, we don’t have to assume that just because he gets 6/60 means that the Cubs (or any other team) is necessarily going to pay him 10 per year, each year, right?

  • BleedBlueinWNeb

    got a question about bleachernation.com on my iphone 4s…when i pull up the site on my phone’s browser and then hit save to main screen, the icon it gives me is just the front page of the site at that current time…

    is there anyway to change the way the icon looks? i like being able to be one touch of my phone away from bleacher nation at all times but the icon it provides isn’t very “eye friendly”, where as on my computer the icon is the BN.

    Can i change the way the icon looks? anyone with an iphone have any advice?

    • TWC

      It seems to me that the icon changes every time I close and reopen the bookmark icon.  I can’t imagine that it’s a difficult thing to make it a fixed icon (like the bn icon in the address bar of your browser).  I expect it’s on Ace’s list.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I have an iPhone, and I have no idea of this feature, haha. Anybody?

      • TWC

        Baseball-reference has a little pop-up icon if/when you visit on your iPhone or iPad that features an icon and the note “click here to add to your home screen”.  Of course, they have a mobile version of their site, but I don’t think that’s a requirement for the icon trick.

      • MichiganGoat

        I think he’s referring to when you bookmark a website to your home screen and sometimes it gives you a icon other times it just gives you a screenshot there is a code that you have to write to override the default screen shot. It might not be an option with WordPress but should be discovered easily.

        • MichiganGoat

          I think it only works for sites that have a mobile friendly view. That’s what BR does if you “Add to Home Screen” from main/full page no icon.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          OK, I just did it – it creates an icon using a screenshot. I will add it to the list – in the interim, i guess an option is to zoom in on a part of the logo when using that feature.

          • BleedBlueinWNeb

            Sounds good Brett! would love to see that BN logo for my icon on my home screen! thanks for everything.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              No prob (and thanks). I just tested it out, and you can get *pretty close* to the BN icon (not the logo, but the smaller BN logo I use for Facebook and Twitter) by zooming in on the BN Facebook icon on the right side of the page, and then adding to home screen after you’ve zoomed all the way in. There is some white space, but it’s close.

          • TWC

            You’d have to zoom in every time you close the website, as the icon remembers the last view, and changes accordingly.  Sometimes my icon is a screenshot of the main page, sometime it’s a clip of the message board.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Really? Oh. As I said – totally unaware of this iPhone feature until today – I just use the bookmarks in the browser.

              • TWC

                You luddite!

                • andrewmoore4isu

                  how come when I add ESPN to homescreen I get a red ESPN logo that is permanent, but for some websites, like bleachernation, they are ever changing? I know its not just because this website doesnt have a mobil site, because other websites that have mobile sites (e.g. cubs.com) do the same thing as bleachernation

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    It’s probably something coded into the site.

      • http://www.twitter.com/mrrobbins MrRobbins

        Brett, you’d actually need to add this to the site to make this happen (and it’d be nice if you did).

        If you add something like to your meta tags in your wordpress theme:

        link rel=”apple-touch-icon” href=”apple-touch-icon-57×57.png” />
        link rel=”apple-touch-icon” sizes=”72×72″ href=”apple-touch-icon-72×72.png”
        link rel=”apple-touch-icon” sizes=”114×114″ href=”apple-touch-icon-114×114.png” />

        (add < on the front of each of those, as it's tagging it as HTML and not posting)

        You can see more at: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/beyond/webmaster/toolbox/article.php/3892251/iPhone-Website-Development-Meta-Tags-Images-and-More.htm

        And then create 3 images (apple-touch-icon-57×57.png or whatever you want, just make sure they match)… It'll use that image when someone saves to their homepage. on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. If you want more info or whatever, hit me up on my email or twitter and I'll help.

  • TeddyBallGame

    As an avid BN reader, I’ve seen stats being thrown everywhere by everyone about Cespedes, pretty much on a daily basis. Cespedes looks like he has the skill to justify 8-10mil over 5-6years, but what I think is being overlooked and what I’m most interested in is…will he run out every fly ball?? Is he willing to sacrifice his body to make a catch in the outfield?? Does he hit the cut-off man regularly?? Is he an intelligent base-runner?? I know these are more intangible type skills, but I think this is what makes good players great and if Cespedes is a player who busts his ass everyday, then I’d be happy to take a chance on his talent…

    • Andrew

      Good point. In all the highlight videos of his homers, he definitely likes to watch his homers. Wouldn’t be surprised if he adds a little sammy hop.

  • Jonathan

    Would it help the Cub’s chances if they brought back the cursive uniforms that looked like they said Cuba?

    • Doug

      Nicely played Jonathan!!

  • Jeremy

    If the Cubs can sign him for below 10 million I would be ecstatic. I think this guy is worth the risk plus we do have some money to spend. Overall, I would prefer to get him around 6 million but that obviously will not happen. I would prefer we put more money toward Soler and Concepcion but like someone said before why not all 3!!!!

  • Cubsin

    My fearless prediction – six years, $72 million, including a signing bonus of $20, salaries of $2, $5, $7.5, $10, $12.5 and $15. If the Cubs are lucky, they’ll be able to opt out after four or five years.

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      at that cost i hope someone else gets him. but if our guys pay that amount they see something worth the risk… im no major league scout or a GM… so ill leave it to the front office and keep the faith… but those numbers your showing, well i think they are quite realistic, and boy are they steep!

  • OHBearCub

    This isn’t a blind bid on these Cubans. Do whatever it takes to sign all three of them and lets go this show on the road. At some point we have to take a risk and flash a little cash. Theo would have done what he can do right now in the up coming draft until the CBA changed the rules. Drive for show and Putt for Dough. It’s time to put the money where it needs to be spent. They have to take a chance on some talent. At least these guys are not straight out of high school. So they played in Cuban AAU ball. That’s pretty competitive ball. It’s just like in the states. Sign them up. How many more of these guys have defected from Cuba? Anyone know if there are anymore awaiting to become citizens and then free agents.

  • Frank

    Luke–love the Occam’s razor reference!

  • TongueInCheek

    Before anyone signs Cepedes will he be drug tested? Is his possible drug use been questioned? It would be a bummer after the fact.

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